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April 11, 2014

A computer chip can test for a wide variety of microbes in the environment.



Rapid testing for microbes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A new technology called Phylochip, developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, tests for the presence of 60,000 different kinds of bacteria in less than a day. Research affiliate Gabby Pecora explains that each Phylochip has 1.1 million DNA probes.


And each probe binds to a piece of DNA, so we flood the front of the screen with DNA and then heat it up so that the DNA fragments and splits apart and then when we cool it back down it binds back on to the probes and we shine a laser through it and it tells us what’s in there.


Pecora recently introduced the technology to a waste treatment facility in Haiti, to make sure they’re eliminating disease-causing microbes.

Phylochip’s also being used to track pollution, study petroleum-eating microbes, and even the diversity of microbial organisms living inside people. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.