Editorial

Scientists are Teaching Spinach To Send Emails and Turning Them Into Human Hearts

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I love spinach. In my opinion, it’s the perfect meal combination. Plate some Ugali, beef stew, topped off with guacamole (Avocado) and you have a direct route to my heart. It’s basically a staple food from where I come from. So, you can imagine my shock when I heard that Spinach now has the capability to send emails.

Fun factoid, that’s not all. Scientists are also turning them into beating heart cells. I know it is a special vegetable but this is not what I had in mind.

2021 Future Tech: Spinach Sending Emails

This experiment is part of a wider field of research that involves engineering electronic components and systems into plants. The technology is known as “plant nano bionics”. This is effectively the process of giving plants new abilities. (No not like the X-Men)

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US are transforming spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. When the spinach roots detect the presence of compounds often found in explosives like landmines in groundwater,  the plants emit a signal. The signal is read by an infrared camera and then sends an email alert to the scientists.

Why Spinach?

Well, speaking to EuroNews, Professor Michael Strano, leading the research says that

“Because of the vast amount of data plants absorb from their surroundings, they are in the perfect position to monitor ecological changes. They have an extensive root network in the soil and are constantly sampling groundwater. They have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves.”

This makes them a prime candidate for this experiment.

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What Does The Future hold for Spinach Now?

Professor Strano and other scientists now believe that spinach could be used to help warn researchers about pollution and other environmental conditions.

“Plants are very environmentally responsive,” Strano says. “They know that there is going to be a drought long before we do. They can detect small changes in the properties of soil and water potential. If we tap into those chemical signalling pathways, there is a wealth of information to access.”

So next time you’re eating spinach, make sure it knows how special it is. As for transforming Spinach into a heart cell, you’ll have to watch that here.

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