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Researchers unveil biosensor that detects hidden rot in potatoes

1 / 2 of all worlds harvested food is lost because of rot due to microorganisms. These losses result in lost income for farmers and higher prices manufacturers, retailers and consumers.

New research led by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) and the Israels Agricultural Research Organization (Volcani Institute), however, details the success of a biological sensor for early detection of hidden disease in potato tubers, among Israels chief export industries at 700,000 tons per year.

Israeli farmers import European potatoes for planting in Israel. However, a particular percentage of these carry disease withineither visibly or invisiblythat cause rot and significantly decrease the potatos quality.

Plants emit various volatile organic compounds to their surrounding environment, which may be monitored for early detection of plant disease and stop food loss.

The Hebrew University-Volcani alliance therefore developed a sensor that detects disease and will be utilized to inhibit the rot from growing and spreading.

Their study, published in the upcoming edition ofTalanta, was conducted by Dr. Dorin Harpaz and her PhD student Boris Veltman at HUs Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, beneath the supervision of Dr. Evgeni Eltzov of the Volcani Institute. The team collaborated with the Volcani Institutes Dr. Sarit Melamed and Dr. Zipora Tietel, along with Dr. Leah Tsror from the Gilat Research Center.

The sensor depends on smart bioengineering and optics.Once the sensor is subjected to an infected potato, a bacterial compound within lights upwith the effectiveness of the luminescence indicating the concentration and composition of the rot.The intensity of the light given off by the bacteria panel can help you quickly and quantifiably analyse the characteristics of the condition, that your sensor can smell, prior to the appearance of visible symptoms, explained Dr. Evgeni Eltzov of the Volcani Institute.

The biosensor we developed can help identify diseased potatoes that not yet have any external indications, and keep them from healthy tubers, thus avoiding the rot from developing or spreading to other healthy plants, added Dr. Dorin Harpaz from HUs Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

To create the bacteria panel, the team created a compound of four genetically-engineered bacteria that measure biological toxicity. In this study, the biological sensor detected disease before there is any visible trace, and caused the optical sensor to shine doubly brightly as did the sensors in non-infected potatoes. Their capabilities were also demonstrated in a previous study which used the sensors to detect toxicity among artificial sweeteners in sport supplements.

Based on the researchers, early discovery of disease prior to the potatoes are exported to foreign markets or replanted, supplies a significant advantage to food growers. The biological sensor may be used to quickly and economically identify hidden rot in potatoes, facilitate better post-harvest management, storage, and transport of crops and reduce food wastageparticularly important given the existing global food crisis, concluded Harpaz.

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