story to find out more.
U.S. Army Medical
Research Institute of Infectious Diseases microbiologist Chris Whitehouse
(left) and ARS plant pathologists William Schneider (center) and Elena
Postnikova use the novel robotic diagnostic technology known as TIGER to
diagnose plant diseases. Click the image for more information about
Scientists Leverage New Tool to Diagnose Plant
Diseases By Jan
Suszkiw November 3, 2006
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologist
Schneider has used, or is familiar with, just about every kind of method of
identifying organisms that cause plant diseases, from light microscopes to
so-called genetic fingerprinting.
Each has its place in the field of disease diagnostics. But what's
really excited Schneider is a procedure called TIGER, short for "Triangulation
Identification for Genetic Evaluation of Risks."
According to Schneider, with the ARS
Disease-Weed Science Research Unit in Fort Detrick, Md., TIGER has the
potential to identify virtually every kind of microbe that may be present in a
given sampleand to do so in a matter of minutes.
Other methods, including those that use polymerase chain reaction
(PCR)best known for its role in genetic fingerprintingtake hours,
days or weeks. And even then, such methods typically detect only up to a few
dozen microbes at a time.
Speed coupled with accuracy, sensitivity and ease of use promise to
make TIGER a frontline tool in detecting new, as-yet-undescribed pathogens, or
exotic ones that originate outside the United States, like citrus greening,
citrus canker and soybean rust.
Schneider's "neighbors" at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of
Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in
Fort Detrick were among the first there to use TIGER as part of the military
lab's mission to detect, diagnose and counter human pathogens, such as those
encountered by deployed troops. Last summer, Schneider began collaborating with
Chris Whitehouse of USAMRIID's Diagnostic Systems Division to test and build
TIGER's capacity to identify crop pathogens.
Along with ARS postdoctoral researcher
Postnikova, Schneider and Whitehouse are conducting research on three
fronts, starting with 14 genera of plant disease bacteria. Of particular
interest is verifying TIGER's use of generalized primers as a sort of
one-size-fits-all "homing beacon" to distinguish bacteria from other microbes
in a sample, such as leaf tissue.
about the research in the November 2006 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.