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Tuberculosis (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Honeybees Apis mellifera can detect the scent of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


PMID 21546308

Abstract

The proboscis extension reflex in honeybees was evaluated for detection of tuberculosis. Restrained bees were tested with methyl phenylacetate, methyl p-anisate, and methyl nicotinate, previously identified from Mycobacterium tuberculosis cultures, to determine honeybee capacity for signature volatile detection. Methyl p-anisate and methyl phenylacetate were detectable over eight orders of magnitude, and honeybees showed proboscis extension response down to 0.1 pg loading of methyl p-anisate on filter paper. Potential exists for trained honeybees in non-invasive diagnostic tests for TB.