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Human Biosensor Can Predict Plant Diseases

plant sensor

A biosensor developed at MSU to detect pathogens in humans has been reconfigured with plant genomic data to target specific plant pathogens.

By combining research from plant pathology, plant genetics and human medicine with cutting-edge technology, the MSU team is pushing the boundaries of what is possible in plant epidemiology. Predicting the next plant epidemic could have far-reaching benefits across agriculture.

Plant diseases are spread by a wide range of pathogens – including fungi, bacteria, nematodes and viruses – and the potential damage is alarming:

  • An outbreak of fire blight in 2000 carved a wide swath through Michigan’s orchards, resulting in an estimated $42 million in losses and destroying between 350,000 and 450,000 apple and cherry trees.
  • Plant pathogens cause about $60 billion in losses each year in the U.S. alone.
  • In 2014, an outbreak of white mold in Michigan soybeans destroyed approximately $50 million worth of crops.

– via AgBioResearch, Legislative Report 2016-16

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