2023 Division Of Research Annual Report

20 BRANCHING OUT Botany Disease Sensing Disease Electronic versions of the human eyes, nose, and tongue can help diagnose botany disease, according to Jose Ramos, Ph.D. And these innovative devices are inexpensive and mobile. Other tools, such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), cannot be used in the field and require advanced training. Ramos uses all three e-Devices to capture data from sabal palm trees and detect lethal bronzing disease (LBD). The e-Nose recognizes when an infected plant releases specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The e-Tongue tests the sap that transports LBD disease when introduced by piercing-sucking insects. The e-Eyes relay a wavelength spectrum that becomes a signature representation of that tree’s health condition. Ramos’ team, which includes biomedical engineering students, found the machine learning model’s prediction accuracy to be 100 percent. Natural Pesticides Billions have been spent using pesticides to mitigate crop damage. For 15 years, Aurelien Tartar, Ph.D., has analyzed biocontrol agents (microbes) to search for genes that could help manufacture new insecticides. Proteomics is a tool that could hold the key to identifying novel biopesticides in mold-like organisms. Realizing that extensive experience in this technique would prove critical, Tartar applied for, and won, a sabbatical grant to advance his training in proteomics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funded the scientific training Tartar requested. Following his sabbatical, Tartar plans to submit a pilot study on identifying novel biopesticides to the USDA. RAMOS RENEGAR WALKER TARTAR e e e NEELY Scan for more. Scan for more.