Field of Science

Something we all need - TNT detecting plants

Genetic engineering opens so many possibilities that only your imagination limits what you can do, but this really does boggle the mind. Plants bioengineered to become extremely chlorotic when they detect minute amounts of TNT. And the cool thing is that all you need to do to solve the problem is give them some nitrogen. Uh oh, the African violet says we have a bomb threat. OK, quick, give it some fertilizer. Several concerns do come to mind. First, even "fast" plants aren't known for their rapid response time, and explosions tend to be hasty things. Second, what will all those explosive sniffing dogs to for a job now? Kibble doesn't grow on trees. Third, paranoid gardeners will go into shock everytime one of their plants is a bit chlorotic. According to my azaleas al qaida is hiding in our garden. Imagine what an infestation of white flies means! Still you have to admire the creativity of who ever decided you could get a plant to detect TNT. But how do they do with fertilizer bombs? Would a plant turn chlorotic just to get at the fertilizer? Hey, but maybe there'll be some new job opportunities for botanists and horticulturalists in homeland security.

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