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Houseplant with hint of rabbit purifies indoor air

What do you get when you cross a houseplant with a rabbit? An air purifier, according to new research. Although the hybrid was more plant than rabbit, scientists found that inserting a gene known as P450 2e1 into devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) gave the plants a boost in breaking down airborne chemicals like benzene and chloroform, The Guardian reports. When inserted into the plants, the gene—found in many mammals—allows them to take in pollutants and break them down into components useful for plant growth, like carbon dioxide and chloride ions, the researchers reported this week in Environmental Science & Technology. Next, the team wants to add a protein capable of breaking doing formaldehyde, another common household pollutant, to the plant’s arsenal.

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