The research in my group focuses on developing bioelectronic technologies for real time monitoring and dynamic modulation of plant physiology. Bioelectronics devices are very promising for interfacing with biology. Bioelectronic sensors can translate complex biological inputs to electronic readout signals while bioelectronic actuators can modulate biological networks via electronic addressing. Our aim is to develop bioelectronic technologies that overcome limitations of conventional methods and establish bioelectronics in plant biology. Focus is given on understanding and enhancing plant responses to environmental stress.
Recently we developed sensors based on the organic electrochemical transistor for monitoring sugar concentration in in-vitro and in-vivo plant systems. OECTs can operate in complex biological environment and directly detect analytes upon functionalization with biological recognition elements such as enzymes. OECTs also offer signal amplification and fast response times. In a first example we developed OECT glucose sensors and measured quantitively and in real-time the export of glucose from isolated chloroplasts1. Glucose was detected only from chloroplasts isolated in night-time in agreement with our understanding of starch degradation in plants. With the OECT sensors we achieved a temporal resolution of 1min that surpass conventional methods. In another work we developed implantable OECT sugar sensors for in-vivo, real time monitoring of sugar transport in trees2. Glucose and Sucrose sensors were implanted into the stem of Populus tremula x tremuloides (Hybrid Aspen tree) and could monitor sugar variations for 48h in the mature xylem tissue. The sensors revealed diurnal fluctuation in sucrose concentration while glucose concentration remained constant, something that was not observed before.
Furthermore, we developed a capillary based organic electronic ion pump (c-OEIP) for electronically controlled delivery of phytohormones. The OEIP is an electrophoretic delivery device that converts the electronic addressing signal into ionic fluxes allowing precise and dynamic delivery of ions and charged biomolecules with high spatiotemporal resolution. With the c-OEIP we could efficiently deliver the phytohormone Abscisic Acid, in the leaf apoplast of intact Nicotiana tabacum plants and induced stomata closure3. Our work revealed kinetics of ABA signal propagation in the leaf that were unknown.
Our proof-of-concept studies so far have shown that with bioelectronic devices, both sensors and actuators, we revealed biological processes that were not observed previously with conventional methods, highlighting the potential of bioelectronics for plant science.
- “Real-Time Monitoring of Glucose Export from Isolated Chloroplasts Using an Organic Electrochemical Transistor” C. Diacci, J. W. Lee, P. Janson, G. Dufil, G. Méhes, M. Berggren*, D. T. Simon, E. Stavrinidou* Advanced Materials Technologies, 1900262 (2019)
- "Diurnal in vivo xylem sap glucose and sucrose monitoring using implantable organic electrochemical transistor sensors” C. Diacci, T. Abedi, J. W. Lee, E. O. Gabrielsson, M. Berggren, D.T. Simon, T. Niittylä,* and E. Stavrinidou* iScience, 24, 101966 (2021)
- “Implantable Organic Electronic Ion Pump Enables ABA Hormone Delivery for Control of Stomata in an Intact Tobacco Plant” I. Bernacka-Wojcik, M. Huerta, K. Tybrandt, M. Karady, Y. Mulla, D. J. Poxson, E. O. Gabrielsson, K. Ljung, D. T. Simon, M. Berggren, and E. Stavrinidou* Small, 1902189 (2019)