Researchers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) are exploring the development of engineered plant nanosensors and portable Raman spectroscopy. These analytical tools can provide tissue-cell or organelle-specific information on living plants in real-time. They can be used on any plant species, benefiting both plant biologists and farmers while enabling sustainable practices in traditional and urban agriculture.
Both the novel analytical tools are rapid and non-destructive. Plant nanosensors are small nanosensors – smaller than the width of a hair – that can be inserted into the tissues and cells of plants. Meanwhile, the portable Raman spectroscopy is a laser-based device that measures molecular vibrations induced by laser excitation, providing highly specific Raman spectral signatures that provide a fingerprint of a plant’s health.
These tools were recently reviewed in a perspective paper titled “Species-independent analytical tools for next-generation agriculture,” published in the scientific journal Nature Plants. An assessment of the future outlook, economic potential, and implementation strategies for integrating these technologies in future farming practices was also provided in the paper.
The research is being carried out by SMART and supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE) program.
SMART is a major research enterprise established in 2007 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with the National Research Foundation of Singapore (NRF). SMART currently comprises an Innovation Centre and five Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs): Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalized-Medicine (CAMP), Disruptive & Sustainable Technologies for Agricultural Precision (DiSTAP), Future Urban Mobility (FM), and Low Energy Electronic Systems (LEES).
(Sources: Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART); EurekAlert!)