Riding the Wavelengths

Aug 6, 2021

Curtin University in Perth, Australia is lighting the way to improved crop protection.

The university and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) are working on a new imaging tool that would help scientists monitor the development of fungal disease in plants.

Wax on: The lead researcher says the wax layer on a plant’s leaves gives off specific wavelengths of infrared light, which would help scientists understand how plants respond to infection by pathogens.

“We expect this discovery to reveal new information on the effect of disease on living plants, and the timeline through which diseases affect plant physiology, with implications not just for agriculture, but also to monitor environmental impacts such as pollution or climate change,” researcher Karina Khambatta said.

Path of least destruction: This research unveils big benefits for farmers and crop health, including:

  • Genetic gain for disease resistance through plant breeding
  • New methods for assessing crop health
  • Judicious use of fungicides or other input decisions
  • Cost savings for farmers

The more you know: If you’re feeling especially science-y, you can read the paper here.