Plant pathogens reduce global crop productivity by up to 40% per annum, causing enormous economic loss and potential environmental effects from chemical management practices. Thus, early diagnosis and quantitation of the causal pathogen species for accurate and timely disease control and management are crucial. Detecting and quantifying pathogen species and their relevant genetic biomarkers in plant extracts at the early stages of the diseases is notoriously difficult to access via conventional methodologies. This is mainly because they are either too slow to enable efficient intervention and application of fungicides (visual observation of symptoms in the field) or are too expensive and technically complex to be used by non-specialized technicians on an industrial scale.
The development of an affordable, sensitive, specific, user-friendly, rapid and equipment-free method for broad-scale disease surveillance in crop plants, based on “on-farm” pathogen detection and quantification, is of great interest to the agricultural industry and plant biology. The Shiddiky Laboratory focus to develop portable devices and technologies for ‘on-farm’ analysis of pathogen species and pathogenic biomarkers in unprocessed plant extracts. Such a device would allow more rapid and cost-effective detection, control and management of the plant diseases.