Prof. Peter Pauls, Department of Plant Agriculture, is featured in a story in the Smithsonian about using houseplants as biosensors. The article discusses a new study suggesting we can engineer plants to monitor our home health by detecting hazards such as mould, viruses, carbon monoxide or radon in indoor air. Rather than install single plants throughout the home, the study suggests, builders can install houseplant biosensor walls in houses. To achieve this technology, Pauls said, researchers would need to ensure that a plant is sensitive to a specific substance and signals its presence by a visual reporting system, such as changing leaf colour.
Pauls studies DNA and gene isolation in plants, plant biotechnology, breeding and transformation, and societal impacts of biotechnology.