Alert system to warn nurseries of fungal attacks

A new development project aims to develop an alert system to warn against harmful fungal spores in nurseries, allowing early action to be taken and reducing pesticide use.

A new development project aims to develop an alert system to warn against harmful fungal spores in nurseries, allowing early action to be taken and reducing pesticide use.

The Danish Institute of Technology is spearheading the new development project, which aims to develop an alert system that sounds alarms in nurseries when harmful fungal spores are detected in the air. Fungal spore attacks are usually only detected when they are already widespread enough to cause plants to rot. Fungal spores cannot be detected with the naked eye and therefore act as one of the main threats in nurseries.

“We have sensor specialists, fungal experts and molecular biologists involved in the project. It is a very challenging task, since nurseries are already full of particles of different types. That makes it difficult to identify gray mold, which is the fungus for this project. focuses on,” says sensor specialist and project manager Thor-Bjørn Ottosen from the Danish Institute of Technology.

Microscopic tentacles

The objective is to develop a detector box that consists of two parts. First, a particle counter measures the quantity and size of the particles floating in the vivarium and in the detector box in real time. When the particle counter registers particles the size of fungi spores, they are sent to the box in a so-called biosensor.

“In the biosensor there are peptides, a kind of microscopic tentacles, which adhere only to gray mold spores. Peptides are attached to a scale the size of a few grains of sand called an overhang. When the scale is loaded with gray mold spores, the fungal warning system will trigger an alarm in the nursery," explains microbiologist and sensor specialist Majbritt Hauge Kyneb from the Danish Institute of Technology.

The detector is being developed by DGT by Senmatic, the project's controller technology specialists, while the cantilever technology is delivered by AmiNIC ApS. The peptides are being developed at the Danish Institute of Technology and Aarhus University is responsible for monitoring measurements of the number of spores in nurseries.

“Being able to provide automatic early warning of elevated spore levels is a great opportunity to help our nursery customers avoid fungal attacks,” says Mads Winther, Product Manager at DGT by Senmatic.

Will make nurseries greener

The objective of the project is not only to reduce the large production losses that nurseries run when they are attacked by fungal spores, but the new technology also aims to reduce the use of fungicides. Merih G. Tesfamicael from the PKM A / S nursery, which is also involved in the project, warmly welcomed the goal of reducing fungicides.

“We hope we can minimize the use of pesticides. This will make our nursery more eco-friendly and minimize the risk of fungal spores developing resistance to the remedies used,” says Merih G. Tesfamicael.

May clear the way for more warning systems

If the partners succeed in developing an online alert system based on particle and biosensor measurements, it will be the first of its kind in the world. Therefore, it is estimated that it can clear the way for various detection systems aimed at detecting airborne threats, including other plant diseases, allergenic pollen, and livestock diseases.

The project is carried out in the period 2021-2025 in collaboration between the Danish Technological Institute, Aarhus University (Department of Environmental Sciences), AmiNIC ApS (sensors), DGT by Senmatic (controller technology) and PKM nurseries, Lundegaard and Hjortebjerg. The project is funded by GUDP - the Green Demonstration and Development Program under the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.

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