Plant nanobiohybrids as living sensors for on-site environmental pollutants detection

Photoluminescent metal organic frameworks (MOFs) were grown into a living plant (Syngonium podophyllum) via immersing their roots in aqueous solution of disodium terephthalate and terbium chloride hexahydrate sequentially for 12 h without affecting their viability.

Then, App-assisted living MOF-plant nanobiohybrids were used for the detection of various toxic metal ions and organic pollutants. Their performance and sensing mechanism were also evaluated. The results demonstrated the living plants served as self-powered pre-concentrators via its passive fluid transport systems and accumulated the pollutants around the embedded MOFs, resulting in relative changes in fluorescence intensity.

Therefore, the living MOF-plant nanobiohybrids initiate superior selectivity and sensitivity (0.05~0.5 µM) in water for Ag+, Cd2+, aniline with a 'turn-up' fluorescence response, and for Fe3+, Cu2+ with 'turn down' fluorescence response in the liner range of 0.05~10 µM with excellent precision and accuracy of 5% and 10%, respectively. With the easy-to-read visual signals under ultraviolet light, the App translates plant luminescent signals into digital information on a smart phone for on-site monitoring of environmental pollutants with high sensitivity and specificity. These results suggest that interfacing synthetic and living materials may contribute to the development of smart sensors for on-site environmental pollutants sensing with high accuracy.

Source: ACS Publications.

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