ISLAMABAD           -     Scientists created cyborg locust capable of sniffing out explosive vapors, which could one day be used by Homeland security to help search for bombs. The team implanted electrodes into the creature’s antennal lobe, a region in the brain that receives input from its sense of smell, allowing them to see what scents it picks up. Signals in the bugs’ brains reflected a range of vapor concentrations from TNT, DNT, RDX, PETN and ammonium nitrate -a chemically diverse set of explosives. The neuronal activity of a locust exposed to an explosive smell was resolved into a discernible odor-specific pattern within 500 milliseconds. The enhanced locust were created by a team at Washington University in St. Louise, who previously discovered the bugs’ olfactory system, or sense of smell, could be broken down as an ‘or-of-ands’ logical operation.

This allowed researchers to determine what a locust was smelling in different contexts. Barani Raman, professor of biomedical engineering, said: ‘We didn’t know if they’d be able to smell or pinpoint the explosives because they don’t have any meaningful ecological significance.’