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Homeland Security Horticulture: Explosive-Detecting Plants

Homeland Security Horticulture: Explosive-Detecting Plants
Design

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.

Claudia Cukrov
  • 27 january 2011

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.

Programmable Ligand Detection System in Plants Throguh a Synthetic Signal Transduction Pathway

Wired: “Grow Your Own Security: Prof Breeds Bomb-Spotting Plants”

Image by Corey Leopold

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