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Bacteria to Help Detect Pollution

Scientists have come up with a way to produce color coded bacteria that could help to locate oil spills and other hazardous types of pollution. They have successfully tested a “blue” bacteria at sea to detect oil spills. They are cheaper to produce than their chemical counterparts, more environmentally friendly, and not harmful to humans.

“Because bacteria have simple single-celled bodies, it is relatively easy to equip them with a sensor and a brightly coloured reporter protein which shows up under a microscope, alerting us to different substances leaking into the soil or seawater,” said Professor Jan Van der Meer, from the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland.

“Our own tests, and checks by other laboratories, have shown that pollution testing using bacteria is a remarkably robust technique and produces reliable results,” he added.

“The heart of our colour sensor system is the bacteria themselves. They reproduce themselves in a growth medium, which makes the whole set-up really cheap.”

In the future it is speculated that the bacteria could reside in buoys that would continuously monitor the waters around them to detect pollution.


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