DNA, it's not just for genetics any more

Technology Review has an article about a paper in Public Library of Science Biology titled Solid-State, Dye-Labeled DNA Detects Volatile Compounds in the Vapor Phase. In other words, DNA is being used as just a polymer, not the Stuff of Life. Why is this cool?

No self-respecting molecular biologist would have thought of this. Instead, a systems neuroscientist working on creating an electronic nose was thinking on the problem of sensor development. The nose worked on biological principles, identifying odors not by specific sensors (as with a CO2 sensor), but rather by the patterns of activity on an array of sensors. They were working with sensors made of polymers doped with compounds with fluorescent properties that would change in the presence of specific, target odorant molecules. Developing new sensors has been a completely empirical process for anyone in the electronic nose business. How to speed it up? DNA.


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  1. John says:

    Not sure if Zoot skipped a groove on this post, what with the category “newcat1” and all — seems like Peg may have had something more to say.

    But I’ll jump in and say one thing that she hasn’t, and that’s that the DNA nose technology mentioned in these articles was first developed in her kitchen, and the lead investigator, Joel White, happens to be her husband.

    This is some excellent Sci-Fi stuff that happens to be real. Good show, Joel, and thanks for the report, Peg!

  2. peg says:

    newcat1 was my way of asking to have Wetware back as a category.

  3. John says:

    I moved it to Wetware. I still see that category down at the bottom of the lists under “Wetmachine”. But this blogging software is idiosyncratic and sometimes shows different stuff to me as exalted BuFoo of the site than it does to mere mortal bloggers.

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