Biotechnology Research: D. Melanogaster Descriminates Odors By Isotope Number

Apparently Drosophila Melanogaster, that venerable subject of hundreds of thousands of biology experiments, has demonstrated the ability to discriminate odors by molecular vibration using an unknown process which human beings must employ NMR or a scanning tunneling microscope to duplicate. That is to say that it appears to discriminate differences in odorants which differ only by the isotopic difference between hydrogen and deuterium. The results are preliminary in the sense that they do not appear to have been duplicated by other research laboratories.

This apparent ability could herald a change in the theory about how the sense of smell actually works. There are a lot ifs in this line of reasoning since the research needs to be duplicated.  For the biomedical engineering community the scientific research could open a new area of engineering research in olfaction transduction.

Original Abstract

Molecular Vibration-Sensing Component In Drosophila Melanogaster

Light background reading to get you started;
Wikipedia: Electronic Nose,
Wikipedia: Scanning Tunneling Microscope, and Wikipedia: NMR Spectroscopy
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