Tomato growers asked to help in developing fungi early warning system

  • 22
  • JUL
  • 2020

A Rothamsted researcher is appealing to tomato growers across the UK to send her leaves infected with powdery mildew.

It is part of research looking to design tools that can detect and identify fungal diseases within the glasshouse - before they take hold.

According to PhD student Anastasia Sokolidi, the system will eventually help growers decide when and what type of fungicide to spray.

I am working on designing a DNA based assay that will be able to identify which type of powdery mildew is present, if at all. This technology will be used in combination with a spore sampler that will allow for early detection before it infects the plant.

“In addition, the DNA based assay developed from this project could also be used to analyze samples in the lab or be coupled with other samplers as a speedy diagnostic tool.”

The project, in collaboration with the University of Warwick and supermarket giant Waitrose, is looking to develop a DNA based test for airborne spores from several pathogens, including the two UK strains of tomato powdery mildews, Pseudoidium neolycopersici and Leveillula taurica.

Tomato powdery mildews are one of the main reasons that tomato growers apply fungicide on their crops in the UK. By the end of the project, we hope to be able to better detect and control the spread of fungal pathogens of tomatoes in the horticultural industry,” said Anastasia.

She is asking tomato producers to send leaves with a substantial amount of powdery mildew on them, and in return, will be able to provide information as to which species of powdery mildew it is.

“I will need to know what region of the UK the leaves were collected from. This is necessary for me to improve my assay as it will allow me too to understand whether the assay is specific to the various strains of powdery mildews within the UK and how sensitive the assay is.”

Anastasia requests any growers wishing to take part to send infected green leaves tucked between kitchen roll.

For more information or to take part, please contact: Anastasia Sokolidi, BCP, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK 

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
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About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.