It may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails. Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.
When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists. This experiment is part of a wider field of research which involves engineering electronic components and systems into plants. The technology is known as “plant nanobionics”, and is effectively the process of giving plants new abilities. “Plants are very good analytical chemists,” explains Professor Michael Strano who led the research. “They have an extensive root network in the soil, are constantly sampling groundwater, and have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves.” “This is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier,” he adds....
Meanwhile in Poland they seem to have overcome the mussels/human communication barrier:
Mussels have been “evaluating” the condition of water for 26 years. It is different with biomonitoring. – Here one organism, in this case a clam, checks many parameters and if there is any chemical contamination, it lets you know. And that’s enough to take a sample, take it to the laboratory and see what it is about: confirm or deny that something is happening to the water. It is a system that ensures safety against pollution and even terrorist activities. The work of the mussels is closely related to what the laboratory does, adds Podolski.