Science - March 14, 2013

Supernose replaces hotchpotch apparatus

A jumble of tubes, pipes and rubber: this is the hotch-potch installation used in Harro Bouwmeester's Plant Physiology lab to capture the volatile substances produced by plants under stress or to attract pollinators.

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The apparatus can soon go into a science museum, though, as an NWO grant is being used to bring a state of the art piece of analysing equipment to Wageningen. With this 'headspace volatile trapping and analysis facility', researchers will soon be able to capture and analyse complex odour samples much faster and more accurately.
The supernose will probably go into action this autumn. Bouwmeester is not the only researcher who will make use of it. Wageningen entomologists Marcel Dicke and Willem Takken want to use the facility for the research on plant signal substances and combatting malaria. Fellow scientists from Amsterdam, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Leiden will also make use of this national facility for their research projects, including the analysis of volatile substances in human breath for the purpose of diagnosing diseases.

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