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Impacts of antibody and molecular disease diagnostics kits on disease identification and management in Africa

Sally Miller: Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University

<div>Accurate diagnosis is the essential first component of plant disease management, and misdiagnosis can lead to control failures, economic losses and the health and environmental consequences of pesticide misuse. The accuracy of symptom-based diagnostics is a function of the knowledge and experience of the practitioner or grower, but symptoms alone are often inadequate. Molecular and serological assays serve as confirmatory backups to symptom-based diagnostics, and essential tools in the identification and surveillance of emerging and invasive pathogens. While the relatively high cost of on-site serological and isothermal nucleic acid amplification assays generally preclude their routine use in Africa, the use of laboratory-based assays for pathogens such as <em>Ralstonia solanacearum</em>, <em>Xanthomonas campestris </em>pv<em>. musacearum</em> and the viruses causing maize lethal necrosis have allowed local researchers to identify pathogens, monitor their emergence across regions and improve plant safeguarding capability. Access to diagnostics assays has also led to local development of management tactics based on knowledge of pathogen etiology and epidemiology. Laboratory infrastructure and personnel training in serological and molecular diagnostics have improved significantly in the past decade but further investments in capacity building are needed to promote sustainable disease management and safeguard crops throughout the continent.</div>

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