Homeland Security Horticulture: Explosive-Detecting Plants

Researchers are working on a completely natural process which could see engineered plants appearing in airports, shopping centers and other public areas as ‘environmental monitors’ against explosive-based security threats.

June Medford is attempting to manipulate the receptor DNA proteins in plants to react to dangerous explosives.  The Colorado State University biologist and her team of researchers are working with a completely natural process which could see engineered plants appearing in airports, shopping centers and other public areas as ‘environmental monitors’ against explosive-based security threats.

The group have created a computer module which reprograms the receptors.  Wired explains;

Basically, the model instructs the protein to react when coming in contact with chemicals found in explosives or common air or water pollutants.

With a usable-result three to four-years away, the proteins can be introduced to virtually any plant species, but unfortunately will not be able to detect ammonium nitrate – a common explosive  – and fertilizer – ingredient.

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Image by Corey Leopold

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