Sentinel plants for pathogen detection

  • A Colorado State University laboratory is developing a unique plant-based method of detecting the arrival of high risk agricultural pathogens in new areas which will allow widespread, continuous and real-time monitoring.
  • By designing receptors that influence the plant’s signalling pathway, the team are working on making plants de-green, or become white when infected with a pest.
  • The pilot system is being developed for the plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa, an economically devastating bacterial pathogen that has not been detected in the UK to date.

Although this biotechnology is still being developed it has the potential to provide the UK with a cost effective, passive method for detecting emergency plant pests. This concept could be implemented on a nationwide scale, or on a national park or SSSI scale to detect pathogens that are currently in the UK, but have not yet spread to conservation zones.

For more information, visit:

About Julia Chatterton

Systems modeller with a particular expertise in food, farming and agricultural systems. Working with life cycle assessment methods for over 4 years to assess and analyse the environmental burdens associated with food and other production systems.
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