A Whiff of TB

Chemical ecologist Max Suckling at the Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd., and summer student Rachael Sagar use Pavlovian conditioning to train bees to stick out their tongues, or proboscises, at the scent of odors produced by tuberculosis-causing bacteria.

Mar 1, 2012
Edyta Zielinska

Chemical ecologist Max Suckling at the Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd., and summer student Rachael Sagar use Pavlovian conditioning to train bees to stick out their tongues, or proboscises, at the scent of odors produced by tuberculosis-causing bacteria. The researchers hope to one day use the insects to identify TB patients in countries where the disease is common, and where cheap, easy-to-use diagnostic methods are in high demand.

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