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Advantages of mobile and smart spore traps in disease surveillance

Jon West: Rothamsted Research

<div>New technology is creating opportunities for surveillance of airborne pathogens. ‘Smart’ spore trapping systems collect samples referenced to parameters including GPS and climate data (temperature, wind direction, RH) and have improved compatibility with high throughput qPCR diagnostics. The Jet Spore Sampler is being tested in Australia for mobile surveillance of several significant fungal pathogens threatening the grains industry. This high frequency sampler (450 L/min) collects directly into DNA extraction tubes and is mounted to a vehicle’s roof-rack. It is programmed to sample automatically whenever the vehicle passes through as many as 16 pre-determined GPS polygons. This device offers improved spatial resolution of spore dispersal patterns through coordination with fixed trapping sites across a landscape. This is particularly important given the size and scale of Australia’s agricultural industries. Recent work at Rothamsted Research (UK) has taken air sampling for disease forecasting a step further by development of automated spore traps with wireless reporting. This unique device is used to sample at high frequency, break open spores to release DNA at the end of the sampling period and move a sub-sample into a tube of dried reagents for either a LAMP or RPA assay. Amplified DNA of up to three different tests can be measured by fluorescence and the results sent out via mobile telemetry. It is already being used to forecast potato blight risk. These technologies aim to improve detection efficiency of rare or early influx events and provide timely warning for industry to respond to incursions of airborne plant pathogens.</div>

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