Power Plant

Passing electricity through soil, and into the roots of plants, might stimulate the accelerated production of certain chemicals, New Scientist reports.

"The roots of garden pea plants were exposed to low-level electric current and subsequently produced 13 times more pisatin, an antifungal chemical, than plants that were not exposed to electricity," we read. The specific experiment on which this claim is based involved applying "a 30 to 100 milliamp current to the growth-medium of plants grown hydroponically, or, in the case of barrel medic, to the solution surrounding the cell cultures."
So is this the future of gardening? Growing hydroponic plants in an electrically charged, semi-liquid matrix in order to "stimulate" the production of new forms and compounds? You could perhaps plant star anise in vast, swampy test plots surrounded by High Voltage signs, and thus derive new anti-flu drugs from electrically active roots. Or generate new orchids, supersymmetrical and glowing, plugged directly into an electrical earth. The Philadelphia Flower Show will never be the same.
Or plug gardens like this into a solar power plant out in the desert somewhere – and a weird new form of exponential photosynthesis is born.

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Blogger BotanicidalIntaglio said...

It sounds as though the electric current might be inducing a hypersensitive or plant immune (or stress) response, which often results in the upregulation and/or increased production of many secondary plant metabolites (such as phenylpropanoids etc.), which are often useful in fighting off viral, bacterial, or fungal infections (in both plants and medicinally for people).

March 29, 2008 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You just introduce two electrodes and you can turn it on and off, it's that convenient," he says.

Oh, but I think there's more weirdness in using a lemon battery (~1V) to provide the said current, just to wash human hands off any possible allegations of torture.

April 05, 2008 7:36 PM  

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