Artificial Electrochemical Neurons Make Venus Flytrap Close Its Lobes

by johnsmith

Researchers have demonstrated bio-integration of organic electrochemical neurons with cells of the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) to induce lobe closure upon input stimuli. Their results may have implications for the future development of brain-machine interfaces and soft robotics.

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). Image credit: Naokivin1978.

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). Image credit: Naokivin1978.

“Neuromorphic bioinspired electronic devices emulate the operating method of the human brain,” said Linköping University researcher Simone Fabiano and colleagues.

“The future development of brain-machine interfaces, prosthetics, and intelligent soft robotics will require a combination of artificial neural devices and biological systems.”

“However, current artificial devices have poor biocompatibility, low energy efficiency and complex circuitry.”

The scientists developed an artificial neurosynaptic system to explore if it could be connected to a biological system.

They printed artificial neurons and synapses to closely resemble the signalling characteristics of biological systems, which use electrical spikes mediated by the migration of ions to communicate.

The authors were then able to interconnect the artificial neurons with the biological systems of a species of carnivorous plant called the Venus flytrap.

They demonstrated that in response to an electrical stimulus the artificial neurons were able to induce the plant to close its lobes.

The findings could facilitate the development of future implantable devices and brain-machine interfaces, as well as the potential integration of artificial neural systems into biological entities.

“These soft and flexible electrochemical neurons operate below 0.6 V and respond to multiple stimuli, defining a new vista for localized artificial neuronal systems possible to integrate with bio-signaling systems of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates,” the researchers said.

The team’s paper was published in the journal Nature Communications.


P.C. Harikesh et al. 2022. Organic electrochemical neurons and synapses with ion mediated spiking. Nat Commun 13, 901; doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28483-6

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