Biosensors detect plant viruses

Plant viruses cause economic losses of several billion US dollars annually. The often non-specific symptoms of a virus infection and the great variability of plant virus genomes make reliable diagnoses a challenge. In the event of infection, rapid action is also required to prevent spread. However, appropriate analyses, such as one-step simultaneous detection of different viruses in an infected plant, are still difficult, if not impossible, with commercially available diagnostic kits. Biochemical sensor technology can help to detect a virus infection at an early stage. 

Mobile Measuring Device for the Detection of Viral Material
© Fraunofer EMFT / Bernd Müller
Point-of-care device for the detection of viral material by real-time RNA amplification (LAMP with pH measurement).

The Fraunhofer project BioPat involves Fraunhofer EMFT researchers working alongside the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Fraunhofer Center for Systems Biotechnology CSB to develop highly specific and robust in-field sensor components for the detection of plant diseases.

By creating novel biosensors, the team aims to enable fast, simple and simultaneous detection and differentiation of a wide range of viral genomes at an early stage of infection. The work being done on BioPat will focus on the analysis of viruses that are most relevant to the main crop plants in Chile and Germany, namely the grapevine and the potato.

© Fraunhofer EMFT/ Bernd Müller
Chemical sensors made of gold in thin-film technology with printed reference electrode
© Fraunhofer EMFT
© Fraunhofer EMFT/ Bernd Müller
Fluid-tight packaging for chemical sensors

As soon as the new generation of biosensors is established, it can quickly be adapted to meet other analytical requirements. This will open a wide spectrum of potential applications ranging from human pathogen detection to food analysis and marker-assisted breeding.

The project is supported and funded by the Fraunhofer Executive Board.



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