Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have confirmed the unique ability of plants by "teaching" spinach to detect explosives hidden in the ground. They reported their research in the journal Nature Materials, where they described an experiment carried out to create an engineering-electronic plant system.
According to research director Michael Strano, the goal of the experiment was to give plants unusual functions. In this case, scientists "taught" spinach to detect nitroaromatic chemical compounds found in the ground.
Like everything ingenious, the essence of the experiment is simple: if nitroaromatics are found in groundwater, spinach absorbs them naturally. After that, the leaves begin to generate fluorescent signals that can be recorded and "read" with a conventional infrared camera.
Michael Strano calls the experiment "an unusual demonstration of how the communication barrier between humans and plants is overcome" and believes that plants can not only detect ammunition, but also warn of environmental pollution.