LEAFY, GREEN BIOSENSORS

First they brought in the chickens. Then came the pigeons. Now, Army-backed researchers are trying to turn plants into biological and chemical toxin sensors, Wired News reports.Scientists at Penn State are working on a three-year, $3.5 million program to turn the mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a small flowering plant in the mustard family, into a green sentinel. The idea is to futz with the plant's proteins so that it makes a visual response when poisons are nearby.But these researchers are hoping the cress will do more. Maybe the plant can be genetically engineered to react to explosive elements -- making the cress into a living mine-detector, as well.Don't hold your breath for this one.

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