A genetically modified plant is the transfer of certain genes such as disease resistance, insect resistance, delayed ripening, abiotic stress resistance and many more between organisms with the use of specific lab techniques for splicing DNA segments, cloning genes and inserting these genes into plant cells.
This technique is currently being used to modify houseplants, specifically golden pothos or Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) to purify certain chemicals in the home that are known for being cancerous.
What makes up the characteristics of living organisms are their genetic makeup and how they interact with their environment. A genome is composed of DNA and can be found in all plants and animals. - humans inclusive. This genome contains regions of DNA and genes that carry instructions for making proteins. This protein is what gives the plant its characteristics. In genetically modified plants, a specific stretch of DNA is added to the plant’s genome to give it a new or different characteristic. The new DNA now becomes a part of the genetically modified plant’s genome which seeds produced by these plants will contain.
Genetically modified pothos
Pathos is a common indoor plant known for its long growing vines and easy no fuss maintenance. This popular plant has been genetically modified by researchers to rid the house of pollutants – this includes chloroform and benzene which have been linked to cancer. Chloroform can be found in small amounts of chlorinated water, and benzene, a component of gasoline gradually builds up in our homes when lawn mowers or cars are kept in garages attached to the home, or when we boil water or shower with hot water. The modified pothos destroy these compounds, and in turn – turn chloroform to carbon dioxide and chloride ions – which is used for photosynthesis. The benzene is also converted to phenol to build plant cell walls.
Unaltered pathos have the ability to break down benzene and chloroform to clean up the air, but the genetically modified ones did much better making it the option of choice for a potential air purifier in the home.
This genetically modified pothos can tolerate very low light and requires very little attention. For these plants to effectively get rid of hazardous molecules, they need to be placed in an enclosure with some space to allow air to move past their leaves. A molecule on the other end on of the home will take some time before it gets to the plant if the home lacks proper airflow. However, the longer term benefits of having genetically modified plants in our homes seem promising.