MARPLE: the real-time cereal killer detective
Researchers at the John Innes Centre have created an advanced plant disease diagnosis system to help protect Ethiopia’s wheat crops from wheat yellow rust fungus.
|2||Number of days MARPLE takes to diagnose which pathogen strain is infecting a crop|
|10-70%||Proportion of wheat yield lost due to yellow rust|
|5||Number of research hubs in Ethiopia using the MARPLE kit|
|2019||Year Dr Diane Saunders won BBSRC Innovator of the Year Award for International Impact|
The portable device, called MARPLE (Mobile and Real-time PLant disEase) diagnostics, detects which strain of the fungus pathogen is infecting a wheat crop in just two days, so users can make fast decisions to control the disease and protect harvests.
The MARPLE kit is designed for use in the field – it fits in a suitcase and does not need any additional laboratory equipment. Previously, infected samples were sent to specialist labs for testing, which took many months.
Ethiopia is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest wheat producer and is considered a gateway for new rust pathogen strains entering from Asia. MARPLE is being rolled out across five research hubs in major wheat-growing areas in Ethiopia.
- The new plant disease diagnosis system identifies fungus strains in just two days, so users can make fast decisions to control the disease.
- MARPLE is being rolled out across five research hubs in Ethiopia, helping to prevent new pathogen strains entering from Asia.
- “It’s such a revolutionary technology. In Ethiopia we’ve now got one of the most advanced [crop] disease forecasting systems anywhere in the world.” – collaborator Dr Dave Hodson, The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
Read the full impact evidence report:
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