FIND is studying photosynthesis-related activity and fluorescence in a bid to develop an ‘early warning system’ for plant disease.
The research, led by Dr George Littlejohn, is
founded on the principle that, while much of the light that plants absorb is
used for photosynthesis, if the photosynthetic process is malfunctioning – as
often is the case in diseased crops – light can also be given back off as
The team is exploring which fluorescent parameters are indicative that a plant either has or is about to show disease symptoms indicative of infection with a pathogen, plus hope to design an automatic imaging system which, taking pictures intermittently, will give an insight into how photosynthesis is being influenced by a developing infection in a leaf or plant.
Cornish businesses, the FIND project could yield intelligence that one day is
useful in polytunnel operations or even at field-scale – in the context of
Cornish agriculture, nationally or even in less developed countries if the cost
of the system can be kept low.