Mildew has always been detected using visual analysis, and so we asked ourselves a question – what if it could be detected from within the environment instead?
To test this theory we infected Basil plants with Downy Mildew (Peronospora belbahri) and Tomato plants with Powdery Mildew (Oidopsis sicula) and tested them with a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Analyser – more commonly referred to as an E-nose.
In order to obtain a decent level of discrimination from the mildew, both infected sets of plants were tested against a control (uninfected) set of plants with a selection of semi-specific VOC sensor arrays – chosen from a selection that recognises a number of different fungal pathogens to see if the various forms of mildew could be detected.
Alongside these, we also included a sample of tomato plants with naturally occurring mildew to include for comparison to the laboratory infected plants.
The control plants had no visible signs of infection, and were used to provide healthy plant baseline results for the experiment.
The results were extremely conclusive, and showed a clear definition of the mildew infected plants from the healthy control samples, which indicated that mildew infected plants can indeed be detected within the crop by the new sensor array, from the environmental air.