Leaf ‘Stamp’ Could Detect Crop Diseases

Leaf ‘Stamp’ Could Detect Crop Diseases

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Crop diseases could be detected earlier and more easily if a new method that stamps a leaf with a colour-changing biosensor is successful. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $100,000 to Hideaki Tsutsui of the University of California, Riverside, to develop the early warning system for crop diseases. Tsutsui’s idea is to print biosensors directly onto maize leaves to detect pathogens such as aflatoxin. If contamination shows up, farmers will be able to isolate a plant to prevent its spread.

Initially, Tsutsui plans to focus on maize, which is one of the most widely grown staple crops in Sub-Saharan Africa. The veins in its leaves run in parallel, and it is therefore especially suitable for simultaneous monitoring of different pathogens in adjacent veins.

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