Researchers bring biotech to farmers worldwide with Plant-Dx

In 2018, family farming generated about 80 percent of the earth's food. As climate change raises global temperatures and prompts extreme weather events, these small-scale operations will face surges in pests and crop disease.

In response, researchers at the Northwestern University Lucks Lab have developed PLANT-Dx, a mobile platform to help farmers test crops quickly and on-the-go. This November, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the Lucks Lab with the Grand Challenges Explorations Grant to further develop PLANT-Dx into an accessible solution for farmers around the world.

Graduate student Matthew Verosloff, leader of the PLANT-Dx project, warms a plant sample with his body heat. Farmers will be able to test their crops within hours using the same simple technology. (Molly Glick/Northwestern University)

This visual read-out for plant and water samples hooks up to sensors and can alert farmers to the presence of multiple viruses at once. (Molly Glick/Northwestern University)
Samples from the Lucks Lab, where researchers also are also developing affordable water testing techniques for individual households (Molly Glick/Northwestern University).


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