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Bacteria the Newest Tool in Detecting Environmental Damage

The reaction most people have when they hear the word bacteria is rarely a good one.

While it’s true that food- and water-borne bacteria cause untold illnesses and even death around the world, a team of researchers from UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has found a way to use bacteria to help prevent some of the very symptoms most people associate with them.

Terry Hazen, the Governor’s Chair for Environmental Biotechnology, a joint UT-ORNL appointment, is working with a team of researchers who have developed a method of using bacteria to help test for the presence of a wide array of pollutants.

“Bacteria can be a great bio-sensor for the environment,” said Hazen, who holds appointments in environmental engineering, microbiology and earth and planetary sciences at UT. “Critically, even if you can’t see the contaminant, the bacteria will react a certain way if pollutants have been there in the past.”

Continue reading at tntoday.utk.edu.