While scientists have toiled for several years to find and use natural plants as remedies to reduce pollution, one research team has made use of genetically modified (GM) technology.
Scientists led by Ru Binggen, of Peking University's College of Life, have used GM tobacco and GM algae in tests to remove toxic heavy metals, such as mercury, from soil and water.
The GM plants are inexpensive and effective in eliminating heavy metal pollution from the environment, Ru told China Daily.
Ru's study is based on metallothionein, a protein produced in the livers of people and other mammals that binds easily to heavy metals.
By inserting a rat gene into tobacco and the algae, Ru's team enabled the plants to produce metallothionein.
Ru said that, theoretically, the same kind of gene could be transplanted into rice to create a GM variety that will absorb heavy metals but not convey them into the fruit itself.
So far, Ru's GM tobacco and GM algae have not been approved for large-scale field studies.
Elsewhere, Jiao Nianzhi, of Xiamen University in East China's Fujian Province, and Yang Hongsheng, of Qingdao-based Institute of Oceanology of CAS, are developing methods of growing an aquatic plant eucheuma to remove the pollutions produced by the sea farming industry.
Source: China Daily 12/07/2005 page5