Researchers have created plants that are capable of producing a type of nanomaterial called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Learn more about them and how MOF plant coatings work from the video. These kinds of engineered plants might be able to sense chemicals or efficiently harvest light.
Plants can make MOFs, and once finished, the materials could be used as a plant coating that can aid in the conversion of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays into light that works well in photosynthesis. “As we contemplate growing crops in space or on Mars where you don’t have an atmosphere and are bombarded by UV rays, something like this could be helpful,” said the leader of the research Joseph Richardson, Ph.D. “That’s because it not only protects the plants from the UV rays, but it also turns them into useful energy. Especially as you get farther away from the sun, it’s harder to capture all of the light you’d need for photosynthesis.”