Canine jobs threatened by explosive sniffing plants!

Canine explosives detectors may soon be unemployed as they are replaced by plants. A new paper in PLos One

Antunes MS, Morey KJ, Smith JJ, Albrecht KD, Bowen TA, et al. (2011) Programmable Ligand Detection System in Plants through a Synthetic Signal Transduction Pathway. PLoS ONE 6(1): e16292. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016292


Our system is modular and PBPs can theoretically be designed to bind most small molecules. Hence our system, with improvements, may allow plants to serve as a simple and inexpensive means to monitor human surroundings for substances such as pollutants, explosives, or chemical agents.


Forget those intrusive airport security scanners, within a few years genetically modified plants could be detecting bombs at airports. Developed by Colorado State University biology professor June Medford, the plants have been manipulated so that they turn white almost instantly when certain types of explosives are in the air around them. Medford says that the goal is to make the plants as sensitive as a dogs nose.

Funding for the project has come from DARPA and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, who see the plants as an additional line of defense at airports, sports stadiums and government buildings. Medford says that the plants could be in use within four years.

Bomb detecting plants coming soon to an airport near you

Plants turn white on detecting explosives: image

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One Response to “Canine jobs threatened by explosive sniffing plants!”

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