Scientists create world’s first cyborg roses

A team of scientists at Linköping University’s Laboratory for Organic Electronics have succeeded in growing living roses carrying electronic circuits threaded through their veins.

The research team led by Prof. Magnus Berggren feels that this project has several possibilities including regulation and surveillance of growth of a plant. According to the professor, this discovery might also allow scientists to use photosynthesis as a way of generating power. You can read the entire study in the popular journal Science Advances.

It’s true that the research has not yet reached that stage where scientists can conclude what exactly it would mean for the world of science, but the team under Prof. Berggren has surely managed to change the shade of rose leaves through the application of electrical current into the system. No doubt this achievement after two years of research marks an impressive beginning and opens up new roads for analyzing the procedures taking place within plant body.

Ove Nilsson, one of the coauthors of the study, said that earlier scientists didn’t have access to any good tool for measuring the concentration of different molecules present in living plants, but now following this discovery, experts will be able to influence the concentration of different substances responsible for regulating development and growth of plants. Nilsson, who teaches plant reproduction biology at the Umeå Plant Science Center, said that this ability of the new system will provide scientists with the opportunity to learn more about plants.

The best thing about this newly created system is that it works by using a plant’s own biology and architecture. However, one has to remember that researchers had to undergo a lot of trouble for getting to this stage of the research. It was not as simple as passing some wires through the body of a plant.

The process required the introduction of conductive polymers to the plant’s system. To find out which kind of polymer works best in this system, researchers tried more than a dozen variations of polymers, none of which worked. Some poisoned the plant while others clogged the xylem. There were also some that did both.

The team tasted success when they used a polymer type called PEDOT-S:H. Both living plants and broken rose stems were found to absorb the PEDOT-S:H solution readily. The absorbed polymer created a 10 cm long solid wire inside the xylem. The research team used the wire to make a very basic transistor.