Plant biosensor systems

The invention provides a system for monitoring the bio-availability and or toxicity of contaminants in the environment. The system includes plant biosensors that indicate the presence of contaminants, such as, for example, volatile organics or heavy metals, using an in situ monitoring approach. The plant biosensors are genetically engineered to exhibit a change in color phenotype under the control of promoter elements that are selectively responsive to the presence of a particular contaminant. The plant biosensing system provides a cost-effective approach to monitoring large and remote territories with high-spatial resolution. The transgenic plants can also be placed at strategic locations, before, during and after remedial activities at a site.

Patent application for a transgenic plant designed to colorcode contamination by heavy metals or volatile organic compounds. Patent lingo (otherwise quite readable) describing the invention. The transgenic plants provided allow the bioavailable concentrations of contaminants to be determined in either the air, soil or water. The plant biosensors may be used in the monitoring of large and/or remote territories. Description of the biosynthesis (various regulatory genes for anthocyanins, class of pigments responsible for red-blue-purple color in plants). The result is a plant which exhibits a change in color phenotype when exposed to a contaminant. Several useful definitions are provided. For example: The term “transgene”, as used herein, refers to an exogenous gene which, when introduced into a host cell through a process such as transformation, electroporation, particle bombardment, etc., is expressed by the host cell and integrated into the cell’s DNA such that the trait/s produced by the expression of the transgene is inherited by the progeny of the transformed cell.

Blaylock, M., Ferguson, B., Chandler, V., Poynton, C., “Plant Biosensor Systems,” United States Patent Application Publication, May 26, 2005, Pub No US 2005/0114923 A1

Expertise Level

Professional Field

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