In January, Ubiquitome announced the finalists of the Freedom For You grants program. The program was designed to provide support for remote qPCR projects, with each winner receiving a Freedom4 device. The ten selected finalists are receiving support from Ubiquitome in the form of Freedom4 qPCR reagents and consumables, project design consultation, and technical support, including wet lab processing. Three grant winners will receive a Freedom4 gold standard qPCR mobile device worth USD$25,000.
Postdoctoral research associate, Diwaker Tripathi, from Washington State University, is one of the selected finalists for the grants program based on his research into PCR testing to aid detection and management of Iris yellow spot tospovirus (IYSV) infected onion crops in the United States.
Tripathi is using PCR analysis to test and identify IYSV infected crops growing in Washington State, one of the largest suppliers of onions in the United States both by pound and by acreage. A molecular biologist by trade, Tripathi has been researching and working in the agricultural and plant based fields for his whole career, starting with a Master’s of Science from East Tennessee State University.
For the past few years, his focus has been on testing IYSV infected samples through PCR analysis. The main issue facing the research is the fast spreading nature of the virus and the associated time taken to confirm the full area of infected crops. Currently samples are taken back to a central lab to undergo PCR analysis. The time required to complete testing allows the virus to continue to spread, sometimes wiping out entire crops before a complete picture of the extent of infection has been built.
Tripathi’s focus is now on incorporating mobile molecular testing into his research as a means of speeding up the testing process and reducing the subsequent spread of the virus through crops. This would allow for samples to be tested on site and infected plants removed, if not immediately then within a couple of days, as opposed to the week it can take with traditional methods.
Onion crops are worth millions of dollars to the US economy with millions of pounds exported around the world every year. Every field of onions infected and destroyed by IYSV represents hundreds to thousands of dollars’ worth of value lost. The fast spreading nature of the virus means that the cost to the growers and the economy is substantial if the virus is not caught early.
Tripathi has contributed to several publications across the agricultural and molecular biology topics with his most recent discussing resistance methods against the Iris yellow spot tospovirus:
Tripathi, D., Pappu, H. R. (2015) Evaluation of acibenzolar-S-methyl-induced resistance against iris yellow spot tospovirus. European Journal of Plant Pathology.
The use of mobile molecular testing would increase the effectiveness of the testing by allowing for onsite identification of the virus and immediate removal of infected plants, reducing the further spread of the virus. This in turn would save thousands of crops and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the growers and the economy each year. With similar viruses affecting other crops throughout the United States, Tripathi’s research is a potential model for others to use both nationally and internationally.
For more information on Tripathi’s research click here or to view a full list of the finalists visit our website www.ubiquitomebio.com.