Twist DX Innoavtors: Plant pathogens
TwistDx’s TwistAmp® exo RT kit is being harnessed by researchers in the UK to develop a rapid, field-based diagnostic tool that will help farmers in West Africa to ensure that yam, one of the region’s most important staple food crops, can be propagated free from the most economically important viral disease, Yam mosaic virus (YMV).
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gonçalo Silva, Susan Seal and colleagues at the University of Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute (NRI) have developed a prototype RT-exoRPA assay for YMV, which has been evaluated to detect YMV in both total RNA extracted from yams and in crude yam sap1.
The NRI team is now working to transfer the RPA-based methodology into a field format that could be used by farmers, propagation sites and certification laboratories to verify that vegetatively propagated seed yam stocks are not infected with YMV. In its published paper, the researchers envisage using battery-operated portable devices for heating the reaction and reading the RPA fluorescence results at the optimum working temperature of 37˚C. “We are now evaluating the fluorescence-based test in microfluidic devices, along with lateral flow-based formats,” Professor Seal states. “The RPA technology is key to our development of a rapid, sensitive and easy-to-use assay that will require minimal equipment and operator steps, and which could help increase yields of this critical food and income crop in West Africa.”