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Application of a carbon-nanotube filter that traps and concentrates virions to improve the limits of detection of Tomato spotted wilt virus in tomato

Juan Francisco Iturralde Martinez: Penn State University

<div>CNT-STEM (carbon nanotube size-tunable enrichment microdevice) is a 3D nanofilter that traps virus particles in a nanotube forest and enriches them according to their size. The CNT-STEM production process is standardized and can be engineered to filter any virion based on its size. Virus enrichment improves the limits of detection of serological and molecular techniques that rely on the number of viral particles or genomes present, and has been used in the past to discover and characterize new strains of <em>Avian influenza virus</em>. For a plant pathology application, CNT-STEM enrichment was evaluated for the possibility of improving the limits of detection of qPCR, ELISA, and deep-sequencing in <em>Tomato spotted wilt virus</em>-infected tomatoes. To date, the device, coupled with qPCR, enabled detection of 100 TSWV genomic segments from tomato leaf samples, which previously tested negative by uncoupled qPCR. The ultimate goal is to detect low titers of TSWV at early stages of infection in seedlings before they are transplanted to large field settings, mimicking a natural infection started by thrips (natural vectors of TSWV). The devices are portable, disposable, and once optimized, could be used in a greenhouse or field setting. Timely, reliable TSWV detection will give growers confidence that their transplants are clean and could reduce the risk of crop losses to this disease.</div>