BLIGHTSENSE - Development of a rapid biosensor system for in-field detection of potato late blight pathogens

Lead Participant: Soilessentials Limited


Potato late blight is one of the world's most destructive crop diseases, with £3.5Bn annual losses globally in an industry suffering stagnant yields for the last decade. This project will develop a rapid acoustic biosensor device for in-field identification of air-borne sporangia of Phytophthora Infestans (causal agent of late blight), to meet the compelling need for improved disease management & control. Soil Essentials (SE), a precision-farming SME, together with University of Cambridge (UC), the James Hutton Institute (JHI), Mylnefield Research Services (MRS) & Syngenta (SG), will develop an integrated diagnostic tool for early pathogen detection, by coupling low-cost, antibody-coated acoustic sensing consumables with a proven spore-trap. The proposed innovation, enabled only by the interdisciplinary convergence of state-of-the art acousto-electronics, smart materials, biochemistry, late blight epidemiology, advanced ICT & precision agriculture, will enable optimised disease control, reducing potato crop waste & fungicide costs, improving marketable yield & quality. As a platform technology, it can be easily adapted to detect other crop & livestock pathogens for wider agricultural impact.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Soilessentials Limited, Brechin £512,477 £ 307,486


James Hutton Limited, DUNDEE £132,671 £ 79,603
The James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom £54,248 £ 54,248
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Syngenta UK Limited, CAMBRIDGE £30,105 £ 15,053


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