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NC State microneedle technique speeds plant disease detection

North Carolina State researchers have developed a new technique that uses microneedle patches to collect DNA from plant tissues in one minute, rather than the hours needed for conventional techniques.
DNA extraction is the first step in identifying plant diseases, and the new method holds promise for the development of on-site plant disease detection tools, according to a university article.

“When farmers detect a possible plant disease in the field, such as potato late blight, they want to know what it is right away; rapid detection can be important for addressing plant diseases that spread quickly,” Qingshan Wei, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University said in the article.

Wei is a co-corresponding author of a paper on the work and is a BMES member.

One of the obstacles to rapid detection is the amount of time it takes to extract DNA from a plant sample. The technique developed at NC State provides a fast, simple solution to that problem according to Wei.

Typically, DNA is extracted from a plant sample using a method called CTAB extraction, which has to be done in a lab, requires a lot of equipment, and takes at least 3 to 4 hours. CTAB extraction is a multi-step process involving everything from tissue grinding to organic solvents and centrifuges.

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