Genetically modified yeast can sniff out explosives


By Paul Marks What do you get if you cross a rat, a jellyfish and brewer’s yeast? Happily, the answer is not the latest genetically modified food, but a low-cost explosives detector. Danny Dhanasekaran, a molecular biologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has coaxed a simple yeast into harnessing a rat’s sense of smell to sniff the explosive trinitrotoluene (TNT), a primary ingredient in many explosive devices. When it finds it, the yeast emits a warning using the jellyfish’s ability to softly glow. Funded by the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency,
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