Video: Crops engineered with nanoparticles could survive bleak environments—including space

crops on mars
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A family of nanoparticles known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, can absorb harmful UV radiation. Joseph Richardson is a nano-engineer. He works in Melbourne at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Bio-Nano Science and Technology. Some MOFs, he knew, can turn UV rays into other wavelengths — ones that plants could use for photosynthesis. That’s the process by which plants produce food from light.

In theory, he could “feed” MOFs to the plants. The problem is, MOFs are too big for plant roots to take up. And cutting open the plants to load them with nanoparticles would damage their stems. So that was not an option.

Instead, he’s leading a research team working to make plants take up the building blocks of MOFs. Their goal: to help plants make their own MOFs. If those MOFs can capture the tissue-damaging UV rays, they might help crops survive tougher climates, both on Earth and in space.

Read full, original article: High-tech crops may survive harsh conditions, even space

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