The France-based biotech company Neoplants released the first bioengineered houseplant to reduce indoor air pollution. Named Neo Px, the plant is genetically engineered to remove 30 times more VOCs than a typical houseplant.

Billions of pollution-eating bacteria thrive around the roots of Neo Px, the first houseplant bioengineered to reduce indoor air pollution. Neoplants
Billions of pollution-eating bacteria thrive around the roots of Neo Px; Photo: Neoplants

This plant can clean the air because it is supercharged with billions of pollution-eating bacteria on a microscopic level. It’s designed to target volatile organic compounds (VOCs), harmful chemicals emitted by paints, gas stoves, furniture, etc.

According to the American Lung Association, indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Long-term exposure to VOCs in indoor air could cause nose, eye, and throat irritation, headaches and dizziness, liver damage, and cancer.

Existing options for combating VOCs include frequently opening windows and air purifying options, which have their own drawbacks. Some houseplants also have limited air purifying abilities.

According to Business Insider, Neo Px is 30 times more effective at removing indoor air pollution than the average houseplant, Torbey and Mora stated. Studies have shown that it would take hundreds of houseplants to purify the air inside a 1,500-square-foot home, but Neoplants aims to achieve air purification with one single plant.

“What we care about is putting nature at the center of innovation again,” Torbey said.


To engineer the plant, the researchers hacked into the plant’s microbiome and targeted a strain of bacteria called Pseudomonas putida. It can live off VOCs as its sole carbon source, metabolizing them into harmless amino acids and sugars.

NeoP1 looks like an ordinary marble queen pothos plant. Neoplants
NeoP1 looks like a marble queen pothos plant; Photo: Neoplants

This bacteria targets three common VOCs: benzene, toluene, and xylene. Though tens of thousands of VOCs could be present in the home, Neoplants chose to target these three types because they’re particularly harmful and common indoors.

Using directed evolution or reproducing organisms in a lab to enhance a selected trait over time, they created a new version of Pseudomonas putida that’s effective at metabolizing VOCs.

One of the biggest challenges thus far was maintaining the bacteria and plant microbiome. To solve this problem, Neo Px comes with “power drops,” a solution of their engineered bacteria, which will replenish the microbiome once per month.

The Neo Px air purifying system includes a marble queen pothos plant, a common type of houseplant that is a perfect host for bacteria. Mora and Torbey hope to eventually expand Neoplants to include more species of plants.

The $119 plant comes with six months’ worth of “power drops” and is manufactured exclusively in the US.

“What we tried to do is build a product that is as sustainable as possible. So, you don’t need to use any electricity, you don’t need to replace filters that have a lot of pollution in them and throw them away,” Mora said.