The Czech-Slovak project will help vegetable growers to detect pests early

The Czech-Slovak project will help vegetable growers to detect pests early
The Czech-Slovak project will help vegetable growers to detect pests early

Contemporary agriculture is faced with a combination of negative influences that fundamentally affect the resulting quality and quantity of cultivated crops. As a result of climate change, plants are exposed to stress from the initial stages of growth and are thus more susceptible to damage by various pathogens or pests.

Scientists from the Mendel University in Brno (MENDELU) in cooperation with other partners focused on early detection of harmful organisms. Experts have developed methods that will help detect at an early stage selected diseases that cause the greatest losses to growers.

The project involved scientific teams from the Czech Republic and Slovakia under the leadership of the project partner, the agricultural company MORAVOSEED CZ a.s. At the Mendel Faculty of Agriculture, experts focused on the detection of, for example, nematodes, phytoplasma stolburu of tomatoes or white rot of garlic. “A grower or even a horticulturist can come to us with a sample if he is not sure, and we are able to confirm for him whether it is the given disease or something else. For example, in the case of phytoplasma, the manifestations in certain phases are very similar to various physiological disorders associated, for example, with inappropriate nutrition. In our laboratory, the grower gets confirmation that it really is or, on the contrary, not the given disease,” explains Tomáš Vyhnánek from the Institute of Plant Biology.

To detect selected pathogens, experts at the Faculty of Agriculture use species-specific DNA analysis using molecular genetics methods. “Detection takes place on a similar basis as the testing of the coronavirus in medicine is carried out today, primarily using the PCR method in real time,” describes the project coordinator for MENDELA, Aleš Knoll from the Institute of Animal Morphology, Physiology and Genetics.

Which diseases the scientists will focus on were chosen by growers in advance through a questionnaire. The goal of the project was to respond as much as possible to the current needs of the Czech and Slovak vegetable industry. “For example, with tomato stolburu phytoplasma, plants are deformed. It is a disease transmitted by stinging insects and causes major problems in terms of yield. Likewise, white rot of garlic can reduce yields when it appears, for example, during storage of garlic or onions. This can then lead to the contamination of a larger part of the production,” adds Vyhnánek.

“Thanks to timely and correct identification of harmful organisms, growers are able to minimize not only production losses, but also financial losses. Another advantage is enabling the targeted use of chemical products for plant protection, and therefore the possibility of reducing their impact on the environment,” Knoll points out in response to the European Union’s efforts to limit the use of chemical substances in agricultural and food production.

In addition to experts from MENDELU, scientists from the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava and the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra. They focused mainly on viral pathogens and also looked for resistance genes against selected phytopathogens in vegetables. MORAVOSEED CZ a.s. provided the connection between academia and the growers themselves as part of the project

The project will last until January next year. But thanks to the purchase of new equipment, scientists will be able to continue the same activity in the future. “Our goal was to create a trusted partner for farmers with the necessary equipment and options for quick detection and, subsequently, consulting,” adds Knoll. The INTERREG project was supported by the European Union with more than EUR 340,000.

Source and photo (tomato stem): MENDELU

1/9/2022 9:47 AM, Section: What we should know about water, Drinks and water in food, Water and our wallet

The article is in Czech

Tags: CzechSlovak project vegetable growers detect pests early

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