As it turns out, you really CAN slap a barcode on just about anything.
In this particular case, colleagues at my former stomping grounds at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center have recently published two papers describing the construction of a genetically barcoded Bacillus anthracis spore simulant and its detection in the environment.
This is a huge advance for biodefense community concerned with environmental detection, persistence, and decontamination. By multiplexing the primer and probe detection sequences, literally thousands of uniquely identifiable simulants can be constructed. This approach effectively side steps many problems of using some of the traditional, unlabeled simulants that are present from previous tests, naturally occurring populations, and use of biological insecticides.
Cudos to Drs. Peter Emanuel and Sandy Gibbons for their work advancing our biodefense capabilities, and capturing the cover of the ASM Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal!