The US military wants to deploy plants as “the next generation of intelligence gatherers”.
Genetically modified plants could be employed as self-sustaining sensors to gather information in settings unsuitable for more traditional technologies.
The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for the development of emerging technologies in the US military, has called for scientists to submit ideas for how to harness the power of plants.
In the past, DARPA has produced information-gathering technologies such as the satellites and seismographs employed to ensure Soviet compliance with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
But in this new initiative, termed the Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) programme, the agency is looking to the natural world for help.
“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,” said Dr Blake Bextine, the manager of the ATP programme.
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