An automated spore trap has been developed by researchers and industry partners in the UK which is said to have to potential to “revolutionise disease monitoring in agricultural crops.” The device, which was developed as part of an AHDB project led by Rothamsted Research, provides near real-time information on the presence of airborne spores and could potentially help farmers target fungicide applications better. Several DNA-based methods to detect airborne spores of key crop pathogens were also developed or improved in the project. The ‘DNA auto spore trap’, which was developed with the Burkard Manufacturing Company, is mains-powered and can issue regular alerts on the presence of spores that could affect nearby broad-acre crops. Once collected, spores are disrupted to release DNA for identification by a series of ‘in-trap’ laboratory tests. Results are then sent wirelessly to a server, thanks to an internal 4G router. Tests for pathogens which are of importance in potatoes are Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (stem rot, also known as white mold), and Alternaria solani (early blight). A spokesperson at AHDB told Potato News Today that a trap designed specifically for late blight detection is in the works. Read more. Further information is also available in AHDB Final Project Report 594.