Although the lettuce-based prototype was a success, Adamatzky insists that talking about getting the bio-wires out of the lab and onto the market was at the moment premature; there are a lot of challenges to be overcome before the wires can become commercially viable, he said.
Physicist Viktor Erokhin at the University of Parma in Italy, who was not involved in the study, said Adamatzky's findings are important. "It is interesting that living beings without nervous systems sometimes reveal 'intelligent’ behavior,'" he said.
"In this respect, such 'wires' can provide connections that will depend on the state of the environmental conditions. Moreover, such objects can be considered as bio-actuators," Erokhin said.
Ultimately, Erokhin believes, this research could lead to the development of bio-robots -- where scientists stimulate the plant cells so that they follow a biological blueprint and grow into truly green machines.
The main challenge now is to understand the intelligent behavior of plants and slime mold, he added.
It is not the first time researchers have turned to biology to create electronic components.
In 2013, a team of U.K. and U.S. scientists led by Tom Clarke, a lecturer at the school of biological sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA), studied how marine bacteria conduct electricity to develop a model of microscopic bio-batteries.
And bio-physicist Angela Belcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has succeeded in creating solar cells, plastics and more efficient batteries with the help of viruses.
Finally, U.S. scientists at Virginia Tech very recently developed a sugar-powered bio-battery. They claim it stores 10 times more energy than the equivalent-size lithium-ion batteries found in mobile phones. Recharging these sweet batteries could be as simple as pouring in some sugar solution.
The leader of the research, Y. H. Percival Zhang, a professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, predicts this biological battery could be on the market within three years -- and it would be a cheaper, easily re-chargeable, and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional batteries.
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