Did you know rapid tests are also used to detect plant viruses?

A picture of a rapid test kit next to a plant

Testing methods for Covid-19 are also used to detect crops’ diseases, identify asymptomatic cases, and monitor incidence of new variants [1]. Early detection is critical to prevent outbreaks and avoid significant economic damages to local communities [2]. Recent examples include the tomato brown fruit virus or the Potato virus Y. The latter can reduce potato yields by up to 80%.

Today, greenhouse and in-field diagnostics of plant diseases rely on image recognition as well as advanced molecular and serological techniques such as PCR detection, Next-Generation Sequencing, and rapid antigen tests. Progress in plant sciences and deeper knowledge of pathogens’ genomes will further improve diagnosis and allow simultaneous detection of several pathogens. 

A picture of a rapid test kit on a plant

[1] Current Developments and Challenges in Plant Viral Diagnostics: A Systematic Review

[2] Xylella fastidiosa, a plant bacterium present in some regions in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal is estimated to cause annual production losses of 5.5 billion euros in a scenario of full spread across the entire EU. Similarly, an outbreak of pine wood nematode in Portugal has caused a significant economic loss for the local timber industry since 1999 destroying millions of pine trees. EU Commission Q&A 'Plant Health: Strong rules for a better protection from plant pests'