New Developments in Identification and Quantification of Airborne Inoculum

Part of the Plant Pathology in the 21st Century book series (ICPP, volume 5)


Airborne spores initiate many fungal diseases of crops but can occur with a patchy spatial distribution or with a variable seasonal timing. New diagnostic methods are available for use on spores sampled in air to give a rapid and on-site warning of inoculum presence or to monitor changes in genetic traits of pathogen populations, such as the race structure or frequency of fungicide-resistance. Increasingly, diagnostic methods used on-site or even integrated with air sampling equipment are being developed. These include fluorescence and image analysis methods, DNA-based methods such as qPCR, isothermal DNA amplification (LAMP and recombinase polymerase amplification), antibody-based methods (fluorescence microscopy and resonance imaging, ELISA, lateral flow devices, and biosensors such as holographic or SRi sensors) and biomarker-based methods (such as detection of volatile or particulate toxins or other metabolites by electrochemical biosensor). By allowing a rapid detection, these methods can offer a direct warning of the presence of inoculum to direct disease control decisions. Air samplers are often used within crops, just above the crop canopy, or on aircraft (including UAVs) or on tall buildings. Their location affects the threshold of spore concentrations that translates to disease risk. The optimal deployment of air samplers varies according to how widespread the pathogen is, the type of air sampler used (particularly the rate of airflow sampled for volumetric devices) and the importance or value of the crop.


Optical sensing Remote sensing Biosensor Inoculum detection Immunological detection DNA-based detection Biomarker 



The authors thank the following funders: Technology Strategy Board (UK), Syngenta and the SYield consortium (, the BBSRC (UK), the HGCA, Defra and the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under the grant agreement 265865 (PURE project).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology and Crop ScienceRothamsted ResearchHarpendenUK

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