Electric shocks boost plants' production of commercially useful chemicals

Mar 31, 2008

Now for some "shocking" news about plants: Exposing plants to electricity can boost production of useful plant chemicals and may provide a cheaper, safer, and more efficient method for producing medicines, pesticides, and other commercially important plant-based materials, researchers in Arizona and Oklahoma report. Their study is scheduled for the April 4 issue of ACS' Biotechnology Progress.

Researchers have known for years that plants can produce a diverse array of substances as part of their natural response to environmental factors such as microbial infection, sunlight, and chemical exposure. To boost levels of plant chemicals for commercial purposes, scientists have often turned to synthetic chemical additives as well as genetic engineering, which can be expensive and potentially harmful. A better method is needed, scientists say.

In the new study, Hans VanEtten and colleagues studied the effects of electricity on the ability of the pea plant to produce pisatin, an antifungal substance. They found that exposing pea plants to certain sub-lethal doses of electric current produced 13 times higher amounts of pisatin than plants that were not exposed to electricity.

The researchers observed similar increases in plant chemicals produced by a variety of other plants when exposed to electricity. There were no adverse effects on the plants.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Related Stories

New capability takes sensor fabrication to a new level

Jun 30, 2015

Operators must continually monitor conditions in power plants to assure they are operating safely and efficiently. Researchers on the Sensors and Controls Team at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory ...

China announces climate target for Paris deal

Jun 30, 2015

Top carbon polluter China confirmed it will try to cap its rising emissions before 2030 while the U.S. and Brazil pledged to boost renewable energy sources in a series of announcements Tuesday in anticipation ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Jul 03, 2015

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

The math of shark skin

Jul 03, 2015

"Sharks are almost perfectly evolved animals. We can learn a lot from studying them," says Emory mathematician Alessandro Veneziani.

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

Jul 03, 2015

Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark—a cousin of the storied great white—is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.