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A new and innovative approach to studying the distribution of plant pathogens
New York (Monsanto Co.) and Harvard University scientists have created a new “virtual” microscope that is designed to scan and study complex microbial networks up to 1.2 inches across at resolutions of up to 50 parts per million (ppm) — a level not before achievable. The microscope, also known as a micro-focal-length optical micrometer (MFLoTM), measures the distance between light pulses emanating from the microbial cells. The microscope, called MFLoTM-T, is the first micro-focal-length device that combines large-scale optical visualization with microscopy at such high resolution. The MFLoTM uses the nanoscale properties of DNA and RNA to image microorganisms living in the environment.
“We are excited to be at the forefront of new and exciting research that is developing new ways to control microorganisms to maximize effective control of a wide range of problems, including infectious disease,” said Dr. Jeffrey S. Shulman, director of the Harvard Plant Pathology Core and the head of the new MFLoTM Consortium. “The MFLoTM consortium has built upon our previous micro-focal-length system to create the next step to improve our accuracy”
This new MFLoTM system measures the distance between light pulses from live bacteria using nanoscale features developed by Dr. Tetsuhiro Fujita and Dr. Ryoji Aoyama. This is a first step towards creating a new microscope capable of scanning the plant microbiome at nanoscale resolution, said Dr. Shulman. The consortium was formed after Dr. Fujita, a Professor in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Dr. Aoyama, an associate professor in the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, teamed up to create a nanotechnologies based on DNA and RNA technology that will enable studies of the plant microbiome including disease susceptibility. These findings will contribute to a better understanding of how to control plant pathogens and ultimately help farmers reduce disease risk, which is particularly important in agriculture.
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