RESEARCHERS CREATE MECHANISM TO DETECT FUNGUS IN APPLES
THIS ADVANCEMENT IS THE PRODUCT OF A FIC-R PROJECT TO STUDY THE NEOFABRAEA ALBA FUNGUS, LED BY THE PLANT PATHOLOGY LABORATORY.
December 7, 2017
Detecting if an apple, which apparently is not damaged, is contaminated with a harmful fungus is the goal proposed by a group of researchers belonging to the Fruit Plant Pathology Laboratory, who developed a molecular procedure is to predict the future development of the disease called "Bull's eye".
With funding from the Fund for Innovation for the competitiveness of the Regional Government (FIC-R), the aforementioned laboratory seeks to identify signs of deterioration to corroborate the presence of the fungus before the fruit manifest symptoms and look to the naked eye. As a result, up to the moment, producers must shorten the time to 60 days and to restrict the period of exports before the apple rots completely.
Mauricio Lolas, director of the Fruit Phytopathology Laboratory and of the FIC-R project, expressed that this problem is quite complex, since "Lenticela infection, which is an opening for gas exchange that has the skin of the apple, collapsed in the tree prior to harvest. Therefore, the farmer harvests a block without problems and of good quality and delivery to the exporting company in excellent condition. However, after three months, the fruit begins to manifest the rot".
The work of detection consists in the creation of specific probes that are connected with the DNA of the fungus, so if this is located in the Apple lenticela, generates a signal that indicates whether or not is the bull's eye. In this way, producers can know if their crop is infected.
Lolas explained that "its effective implementation is to alert to the presence of Bull's Eye in apples, since in the event that there is no latent infections, apples can be stored in cold for a longer time and marketed in October-November, reaching the best prices in international markets."
The applied research unveiled at the seminar entitled "Bull's Eye in Chilean Apples: a Phytopathological Problem of Export Importance", which was attended by the most important export companies in the region, as well as producers, consultants and entrepreneurs.
Vincente Vargas, engineer from the Dole Chile company , commented that "This disease is a very complicated problem and has strongly affected us in previous seasons for its difficult control, so that the tool is very valuable, since it allows to manage the disease by reducing the rates of loss".