Bacteria can be dangerous, but they can also be useful. New research has discovered that these tiny life forms have a sense of smell. Could this be used to keep away the ones we DON’T want?

Scientists have demonstrated that a bacterium commonly found in soil can smell and react to ammonia in the air. Bacteria have already shown that they have the ability to react to light and touch, albeit in primitive ways.

In BBC News, Jason Palmer quotes researcher Reindert Nijland as saying, “The difference is both in the mechanism that does the sensing, as well as in the compounds that are sensed. The compounds detected by olfactory organs are generally much more volatile than things you can taste like ‘sweet’ or ‘salt,’ and therefore can provide information about things that can be much further away [in the same way that] you can smell a barbecue from a few blocks away whereas you have to physically touch and eat the steak to be able to actually taste it. If very simple organisms such as bacteria are capable of this that would imply that this ability evolved much earlier than expected.”

When it comes to preventing the spread of superbugs in hospitals, where they cling to things like scalpels, scientists have now created a nanoscale coating for surgical equipment, hospital walls, and other surfaces which safely eradicates MRSA, the bacteria responsible for antibiotic resistant infections. In tests, 100% of MRSA bacteria in solution were killed within 20 minutes of contact with a surface painted with latex paint laced with the coating.

Researcher Ravi Kane says, “At the end of the day we have a very selective agent that can be used in a wide range of environments–paints, coating, medical instruments, door knobs, surgical masks–and it

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