New Toxin-Eating Houseplant

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common type of ivy so it can remove chloroform and benzene from the air inside our homes.

More specifically, the team improved the air-cleaning properties of one common household plant, the pothos ivy (epipremnum aureum)…they genetically modified pothos ivy to not only remove carcinogens such as chloroform and benzene from the air, but to synthesize a protein, called 2E1, that transforms these harmful compounds into molecules the plants use for their own growth.

The researchers chose pothos ivy as the plant for modification because it grows well indoors in a variety of conditions. They detail their work in a new study published this week in Environmental Science & Technology.




Journal reference:  Zhang, L., Routsong, R., & Strand, S.E. (2019). Greatly Enhanced Removal of Volatile Organic Carcinogens by a Genetically Modified Houseplant, Pothos Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) Expressing the Mammalian Cytochrome P450 2e1 Gene, Environmental Science & Technology.  DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b04811