Scientists ‘train’ spinach to sniff out bombs

A team of scientists, including UC Riverside assistant professor Juan Pablo Giraldo, have transformed plants into sensors that detect explosives.

The spinach plants were designed to sense chemical compounds known as nitroaromatics, which are often used in landmines and other explosives. A paper about the research was published in the journal Nature Materials.

This research has a lot of potential uses. Plants embedded with the sensors could detect explosives, harmful airborne pollutants and plant health for farming.

“In a way, we are showing that we can turn plants into solar powered technology that report to humans what they are experiencing in the environment,” said Giraldo.