Dedicated to develop innovations that strive for transformational technologies change, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DAPRA) is an US Govt technology research arm which has announced a number of landmarks this year. It includes new gene editing technologies and development into brain computer interface devices.
The latest one of them to be revealed has been named as Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) which in process of approval from science and technology community on the potential ways to plant physiology could be appropriated to detect “chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear threats, as well as electromagnetic signals.”
The purpose of the program is to naturally modify certain plants so that specific response mechanisms are triggered when they are presented with specific stimuli. it has been recommended that existing hardware to be used to remotely monitor these responses so that these plants could be used an organic sensors. No new hardware will be developed but to measure such things as a plants’ temperature, chemical composition and reflectance, relying on the existing technologies.
“Plants are highly attuned to their environments and naturally manifest physiological responses to basic stimuli such as light and temperature, but also in some cases to touch, chemicals, pests, and pathogens,” says Program Manager for APT, Blake Bextine. “Emerging molecular and modeling techniques may make it possible to reprogram these detection and reporting capabilities for a wide range of stimuli, which would not only open up new intelligence streams, but also reduce the personnel risks and costs associated with traditional sensors.”
No specific plants or external stimuli yet specified as DAPRA says that it will be disclosed as the research proposals are evaluated. However the initial announcement does add that the goal is to “modify multiple and complex traits to give plants new capabilities that enable them to sense and report on numerous stimuli.”
All these initials are restricted to laboratories, greenhouse environments or simulated natural environments. Field trials will take place under the watchful eye of DAPRA only if the research proves successful.