Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Botanical bomb alert

Ferris Jabr,, 2 February 2011:

It sounds like the setting from the latest science fiction film: an airport equipped with a forest of bomb-detecting plants that can sniff out potential terrorists.

But according to June Medford and her team from Colorado State University, their rewired plants could turn this scenario into reality.

In the new study, published online in PLoS One, the team engineered tobacco plants and mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) to turn yellow when they detect minute concentrations of explosives in the air.

Using a computer program, they redesigned receptor proteins to respond to TNT.

Consequently, when the plants are exposed to vapours from the explosive, TNT molecules bind to the receptors on the plant tissues and the leaves lose their green hue. Read more>>

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