SRUC provides commercial services to growers of agricultural and horticultural crops through two Crop Clinics via its associate company, SAC Commercial Ltd.
This project aims to identify a protocol for the efficient and accurate extraction of the DNA of important crop pathogens and pests from soil samples.
By knowing what species of pathogen and/or pest are present in soil, growers can assess the risk of crop damage, and plan more effectively for the deployment of pesticides, choice of resistant varieties for the current crop and in crops to be grown in subsequent years.
Currently, protocols for the extraction of DNA from soil is often pathogen/pest specific, so for a grower to know what pathogens or pests may be present relies on multiple soil samples for each pathogen/pest, and different protocols to be used for each one.
This is time consuming in terms of the collection of multiple soil samples, the laboratory processing, and ultimately an expensive process for the grower.
By streamlining the process through identifying a single reliable protocol that is effective across a range of soil types, and assessing areas of the protocol that may be suitable for automation, the cost of these diagnostic tools to the grower will become more attractive, particularly when multiple pathogens/pests are being identified across a range of different crops.
With over 50 soil-borne pathogens and pests of agricultural and horticultural crops in the UK, a means to cost-effectively identify them from soil samples would be a significant benefit to sustainable crop production.