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Mustard Plant Can Detect Chemical Weapons

Flickr/Photo by Ava Babili (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mustard Plant Can Detect Chemical Weapons

The white mustard plant is capable of much more than producing a condiment. Researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom have found that it can be used to detect chemical warfare agents, including the deadly substance known as VX. The study, published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, describes how plants grown in soil laced with VX absorb the toxin through their roots; the chemical can then be detected in the plant for up to 45 days after absorption. The scientists suggest that the white mustard plant’s ability to take in the agent could offer a possible way to purify contaminated soil.

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