Within the plant kingdom, nearly five thousand (5000) plant viruses have been identified. Nearly three hundred (300) of these viruses are harmful pathogens to plant species important to humans as food or fiber. Control of nearly 100 viruses in human edible crops is a critical agricultural industry. Pesticides, fungicides, bactericides, and herbicides and genetic engineering programs are conventionally utilized to mitigate harmful crop pathogens. However, application of these control agents introduces certain undesirable consequences.
There is growing need and a major concern by American and European societies about safety and quality of food supply. An equivalent need and concern is rising among commercial food growers. Edible food and fiber producers (and ornamental growers) are severely restricted and regulated in the types of approved chemical agents utilized to control pathogens in crop production. Annual US crop yield losses are estimated as high as 40%.
For example: the canker virus, endemic to Florida’s citrus trees, in the year 2000 has reached the status of requiring the State of Florida and US Department of Agriculture to undertake a $170Million eradication program to eliminate eighty (80%) percent of the citrus trees in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. This controversial but necessary program is essential to retaining a portion of states typical $8.5Billion annual industry.
Early crop screening and virus detection at the field site using battery-operated inexpensive technology will give these industries a major boost. Current plant virus methods involve time consuming and costly steps; field symptom onset & observation, sample gathering, sample packaging, express delivery to remote dedicated laboratory for analysis and assay, assay results turnaround of 7 to 14 days, with each assay typically costing $25-$50 depending on varietal and pathogen test.
Finalize Development of Hand-Held Field Point Agricultural Virus Detectors
NanoMEMS Fabricated Virus Detectors
Convert current proven laboratory-processing procedures to solid-state devices. Proof of concept has been achieved comparing conventional specific enzyme immuno assay (ELISA) methods with silicon chip (lab-on-a chip technology. Positive test results have been achieved for the following: tomato spotted wilt virus, impatiens necrotic spot, and cucumber mosaic virus; viruses of the more destructive type known to infect plants; Xanthomonas compestris pv. pelargonii, an important bacterial disease of geraniums; and Bt Cry1Ac, a large protein toxin produced by the bacteria Bacillus thurigiensis, now being expressed in genetically modified cotton, such as Bollgard® cotton.
This project is now awaiting engineering prototype development of the disposable cartridges containing the LOC array and beta testing for commercialization field use prior to full market launch.
Global market sales value for this device is estimated at $1B initial market with a $600M annual servicing follow-on to re-supply disposable cartridges. Industrial segments includes: Horticulture Pathogen Management, Edible and Ornamental Crop Growers and Producers, Worldwide Crop/Food Security Programs.
This project and its spin-offs s are best developed through partnerships, collaborations and joint re-sourcing of: Plant Microbiologists Virologists, Conducting Polymers & Synthetic Metals Specialists, Nanoscale Dimensioning Equipment, and Multifunctional Electronics Assembly Contract Lab, Bio-Agriculture Instrument Companies, Commercial Nano Fabrication Facility, Commercial Horticultural Virus Testing Lab., US Department of Agriculture, NIST, World Bank and others.