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Plant Bioelectronics and Plant Biohybrids

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Plants are the basis of food, providers of oxygens and regulators of the ecosystem. In my group we are interfacing electronics with plants. Our first goal is to develop bioelectronic technologies that will help elucidate plants processes with special focus on plant adaptation to environmental stress. Deciphering these processes is critical for engineering plants with enhanced tolerance to stress, especially in the rapidly changing climate. Recently we presented a miniaturized organic electronic ion pump, an electrophoretic controlled delivery device, for in-vivo delivery of phytohormones with high spatio-temporal resolution. The capillary based OEIP is implanted into the leaf of intact plants without significant wound response. We demonstrated efficient delivery of the phytohormone Abscisic Acid, ABA , one of the main hormones that mediates plant responses to stress. ABA induced the closure of stomata, the microscopic pores in leaves that regulate water loss and gas exchange. Our study revealed kinetics of ABA signal propagation that were not observed before. We are also developing sensors based on organic electrochemical transistors for monitoring metabolites in in-vitro and in-vivo plant systems with time resolution that outperforms conventional methods. The second part of my talk is dedicated to plant biohybrid systems. With conjugated oligomers introduced into the plant we are developing electronic devices within its structure. We demonstrated that the oligomers polymerize in-vivo forming conductors, in parallel with the growth of the plant. The polymerization process is driven from lignification integrating the conducting polymers into the cell wall. The biohybrid system is further explored in energy applications.

This talk is part of the Electrical Engineering series.

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