Smelling plant diseases: New technology identifies plant diseases remotely in the field

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By identifying the chemical cocktails released by leaves, the newly developed technology can identify if a specific plant is diseased and if so, what the disease is (© Pexels)

Researchers at North Carolina State University have published an exciting study on a novel technology which allows farmers and extension workers to identify plant diseases remotely in the field using airborne chemical fingerprints. The newly developed handheld sensory device, which can be plugged into a smartphone, samples the airborne levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are released by plants from the leaves.

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Which is the most important plant-pathogenic oomycete?

Oomycete oospores © Richard Shattock
Oomycete oospores © Richard Shattock

In its latest issue, Molecular Plant Pathology has published a list of the top 10 oomycete pathogens based on scientific and economic importance, as voted for by 62 scientists. This is the latest of the journal’s “Top 10” articles which have previously covered plant pathogenic fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Oomycetes, also known as water molds, are often likened to fungi as they resemble filamentous fungi, and have similar feeding and reproduction methods. However, genetic analysis has shown that the two groups are actually phylogenetically very different and are now classified in separate kingdoms. Below you will find more information about the “Top 10” plant pathogenic oomycetes, with links to further information available on the Plantwise knowledge bank.   Continue reading

Warming Climate Marches Pests and Pathogens Polewards

Locust Swarm © Wild Center
Locust Swarm © Wild Center

The distribution of plant pests and pathogens has been observed to be moving away from the equator towards the North and South poles and inhabit areas previously too cold for their existence. This threatens to increase the percentage of crops lost annually to pests and pathogens and subsequently raises major concerns over global food security.

A new study published in Nature Climate Change revealed distributions of plant pests and pathogens are advancing polewards at an average rate of 2.7 km (1.7 miles) per year. The current shift in the range of plant pests and pathogens will increase the percentage of crops lost every year. This is expected to increase as temperatures continue to rise. Dr Dan Bebber and his co-authors from the University of Exeter warned that “If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security”.

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