Home pagePress monitoringModified ivy uses synthetic rabbit gene to clean the air

Modified ivy uses synthetic rabbit gene to clean the air

Date: 28.12.2018 

While it's true that houseplants do help clean the air within a home, it is estimated that over 20 plants per room would be required to make an appreciable difference. That likely wouldn't be the case with a new genetically-modified ivy, however, which has proven to be highly effective at removing toxic chloroform and benzene from the air.

Kredit: Mark Stone/University of Washington.A team of scientists at the University of Washington started by creating a synthetic version of a gene, which provides the instructions for rabbits' bodies to produce a protein known as cytochrome P450 2E1.

In all mammals including humans, 2E1 converts benzene into a chemical called phenol, and it converts chloroform into carbon dioxide and chloride ions. The protein is located in the liver, though, so it doesn't help neutralize airborne toxins.

The researchers proceeded to introduce the synthetic gene into regular pothos ivy plants, causing every cell in those plants to express 2E1. In lab tests, both the modified plants and regular ivy plants were placed in glass tubes, to which either benzene or chloroform gas was then added.

After an 11-day period, it was found that concentrations of the gases in the regular ivy tubes hadn't changed. In the modified ivy tubes, however, the chloroform concentration had dropped by 82 percent within just three days, and was almost undetectable after six. The benzene concentration, meanwhile, dropped by about 75 percent after eight days.

As an added bonus, the phenol, carbon dioxide and chloride ions produced by the 2E1 all help the plants to grow. Because pothos ivy doesn't flower in temperate climates, though, the plants' modified genes shouldn't spread into the environment – at least, not in cooler parts of the world.





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