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Microbes travel through the air; it would be good to know how and where
Date:9/9/2011

Preliminary research on Fusarium, a group of fungi that includes devastating pathogens of plants and animals, shows how these microbes travel through the air. Researchers now believe that with improvements on this preliminary research, there will be a better understanding about crop security, disease spread, and climate change.

Engineers and biologists are steering their efforts towards a new aerobiological modeling technique, one they think may assist farmers in the future by providing an early warning system for high-risk plant pathogens. It will also provide the basis for more effective management strategies to address the spread of infectious diseases affecting plants, domestic animals, and humans.

Using initial studies on the efficient movement and subsequent atmospheric dispersal of these microbes, Shane Ross, an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, and David Schmale III, associate professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science, both at Virginia Tech, have received close to half a million dollars from the National Science Foundation to use autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collect new samples of Fusarium in the lower atmosphere. They believe their work, combining the study of biology with engineering dynamics, will allow the prediction of atmospheric transport barriers that might govern the motion of Fusarium between habitats.

In preliminary work leading to their new study, also funded by the National Science Foundation, but through a different project led by Schmale and Ross, more than 100 airborne samples of Fusarium were obtained using UAVs. "The resulting information has led to strong evidence that specific atmospheric structures play a role in determining atmospheric concentrations of Fusarium," Ross said. This work was published
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Contact: Lynn A. Nystrom
tansy@vt.edu
540-231-4371
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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