Super Spinach

Spinach! Excellent source of vitamins, minerals — bomb detection?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, and with the latest twist on your favorite superfood.

Plants are constantly taking in information from their surroundings. Their roots act like telephone wires that communicate and receive signals from the environment.

Researchers at MIT and UC Riverside took advantage of this. They developed the field of plant nanobionics [NA-no-bye-AHN-iks]. This is where small particles are inserted into plants, enabling them to perform new tasks. For instance, the plants can make new discoveries about what is in the environment, like… landmines.

The team inserted sensors that detect chemicals found in explosives into spinach leaves. When the spinach roots drink water with explosive chemicals, it travels to the leaves. Within ten minutes, the sensors get activated. Then this information is wirelessly sent to a handheld device, similar to a smartphone.

Next on the menu? Why not…bomb defusing kale? But, I might be going out on a limb here. LETTUCE see!