houseplants periods, sometimes a miserable existence. Like the one or the other and forget the regular casting left a lot of scrub then. This might at least be worth the care – and, if you have no Problem with genetic engineering.

Because researchers have changed the Pothos, also in Germany, a popular indoor plant genetically so that it can filter harmful substances from the air.

a Team of Long Zhang from the University of Washington in Seattle, channeled a Protein in the Plant, which breaks down pollutants. Their study presented the scientists in the journal “Environmental Science and Technology”. The Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) it needs hardly any light, and forms-meter-long shoots.

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were looking for a way to filter out potentially harmful substances as easy as possible from the air. They focused on Chloroform and benzene. Both chemicals are suspected to cause cancer. Chloroform can arise according to the researchers, for example, in the shower of chlorinated water, benzene is a component of gasoline, and find more in garages.

“are all stable Compounds. Therefore, it is really hard to get rid of them,” says Stuart beach, was involved in the study. Without the proteins that break down these molecules, one would have to take much more elaborate measures. “It is so much easier and more sustainable, a houseplant with the corresponding proteins.”

it has long Been known that the Protein cytochrome P450 can reduce 2E1 volatile organic Compounds such as benzene and Chloroform. All mammals have this Protein, too, man. It is found in our liver.

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The researchers built now in the Pothos is a variant of the gene that is essential for the formation of P450 2E1 is responsible – it came from the DNA of rabbits Then they tested how effective the modified room plant, which is now formed in each cell P450 2E1, the materials, benzene and Chloroform, was able to reduce.

the researchers are not Packed, modified, and normal Pothos-plant into a glass tube and is exposed to very high pollutant concentrations. Result: In the case of the normal plants did nothing. In the tubes with modifiziertet Pothos, however, the Chloroform took concentration within three days by 82 percent, on the sixth day, was hardly Chloroform is undetectable. The benzene concentration decreased more slowly, on the eighth day, she was reduced at least by 75 percent.

The researchers restrict that in the experiments used concentrations of pollutants were, for technical reasons, approximately a Million Times higher than in normal room air. However, the Team expects to have the beach, the plants degrade the contaminants under normal conditions is just as fast or even faster. So far, the Try however, just to pure laboratory tests without the need for planned areas of application.

Thus, the modified plants can be used to maximum effect, moving the air through their leaves, for example, with the help of a fan. “If you have a Plant in a corner of the room, it also has a certain effect,” says beach. “But without air flow, it takes a very long time, until a molecule from the other corner of the house comes to the Plant.”


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.