(700b) Nitroaromatic Detection and Infrared Communication from Wild-Type Plants Using Plant Nanobionics

Authors: 
Wong, M. H., Massachusetts Institute of Technnology
Giraldo, J. P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kwak, S. Y., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Koman, V., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Liu, P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bisker, G., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Salim Lew, T., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Strano, M. S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Plant nanobionics aims to engineer living plants with non-native functions by interfacing the plants with specifically designed and targeted nanoparticles. Herein, we design and demonstrate living spinach plants (Spinacia oleracea) as new materials and functional devices that serve as self-powered auto-samplers and pre-concentrators of nitroaromatics within ambient groundwater, detectors of the nitroaromatic molecules contained therein, and infrared (IR) communication platforms that can send this information to a userâ??s smart phone. The design employs a pair of near infrared (nIR) fluorescent nanosensors embedded within the mesophyll of the plant leaf, with one engineered through the Corona Phase Molecular Recognition (CoPhMoRe) technique using single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) conjugated to the peptide Bombolitin II to recognize nitroaromatics via IR fluorescent emission at > 1100 nm with a response time of 5-15 mins after introducing 400 μM of picric acid to the roots. The second IR channel is a polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) functionalized SWCNT that acts as an invariant reference signal. As contaminant nitroaromatics in solution are transported up the roots and stem into the leaf tissues, they accumulate in the mesophyll where the pair of SWCNT sensors are embedded. The resulting relative changes in the intensity of SWCNT emission, with a response rate that is mathematically described using a whole plant residence time model. The real-time monitoring of embedded SWCNT sensors also allows residence times in the roots, stems and leaves to be estimated, calculated to be 2 to 5 min, 3 to 6 min and 1.9 min/mm leaf, respectively. We further show that this system is generalizable to the detection of other analytes, such as dopamine which are known to effect physiological changes in plants. These results demonstrate the ability of living, wild-type plants to function as chemical monitors of groundwater and communication devices to external electronics at standoff distances