Plant-machine Interface

Real-time Monitoring of Environmental Impact on Plants Through a Plant-machine Interface Network

Global food production is significantly affected by the factors such as drought, diseases, insect attacks, pollution, and climate changes. With the human population continuing to grow and the global climate in flux, it is critical to apply technology to help the basis of our food chain, plants, sustain and increase production. Plants are remarkably responsive to environmental stresses and possess many traits that allow them to cope with new stresses. Deploying adapted plants and intervening when they are stressed offer the best opportunity for addressing global crop production and food availability problems. Early work has demonstrated that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants signify the state of plant stress. More importantly, it has been shown that plants emit the corresponding VOCs within a few hours of environmental change such as insect attacks or dehydration, months earlier than actual symptoms emerge.

A team led by Prof. Xudong (Sherman) Fan at the Biomedical Engineering Department envisions an autonomous distributed vapor monitoring network with a large number of sensing nodes that can be deployed locally, regionally, and globally. It interfaces with plants and provides spatio-temporal information about plant-emitted VOCs in real-time, pervasively, and continuously, thus providing early warning for immediate and appropriate intervention as well as rapid assessment of remediation.

Project Team:

Xudong Fan, College of Engineering
Katsuo Kurabayashi, College of Engineering
Yogesh Gianchandani, College of Engineering
Veronica Berrocal, School of Public Health