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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Sentries in the garden shed

Sentries in the garden shed – Plants that can detect environmental contaminants, explosives

This is Dr. June Medford in her lab at Colorado State University.

From the February 15, 2011 Eureka news alert

Someday, that potted palm in your living room might go from green to white, alerting you to a variety of nasty contaminants in the air, perhaps even explosives.

The stuff of science fiction you say? Not so, says a Colorado State University biologist whose research is funded in part by Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), as well as by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and others.

Dr. June Medford and her team in the Department of Biology at Colorado State have shown that plants can serve as highly specific sentries for environmental pollutants and explosives. She’s enabled a computer-designed detection trait to work in plants. How? By rewiring the plant’s natural signaling process so that a detection of the bad stuff results in the loss of green color.

Based on research so far, Medford says the detection abilities of some plants (tobacco is an example) are similar to, or even better, than those of a dog’s snout, long the hallmark of a good detector. Best of all, the training time is nothing compared to that of a dog…..

 

This graphic shows de-greening in plants over a 48-hour period.

 

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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