The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 1, 2013

Scientists use DNA scanner to hunt invasive plants

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are using DNA to identify invasive plants and help them from spreading in the United States.

The research involves a portable DNA scanner to identify unwanted plants -- even if they are masquerading as something else.

Al.com reports (http://bit.ly/1034rYl) that one of the main targets of the research is congongrass. It's a fast-growing weed that chokes out other plants and burns with a dangerous intensity in forest fires.

Congongrass arrived in the U.S. near Mobile and other southern ports in the early 1900s. It was produced by nurseries and sold across the South. Now, there are fears it will cross-pollinate with a species adapted to the cold and spread as far north as Canada.

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