Scientists have developed a new miniature, portable gene sequencing technology that can diagnose infection from viruses such as Ebola or Zika almost instantly in the field.
Diagnosis is both quick and early, which avoids the need to transfer contaminated samples, researchers said.
"The technology is characterised by the production of long nucleotide sequences, which makes it possible to sequence the entire viral genome," said Philippe Roumagnac, a virologist at The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).
CIRAD was one of the first laboratories in the world to test and validate its use in plant virology, researchers said.
"Using a diseased yam plant, it took us just a few hours to sequence the entire genome of two single-strand RNA viruses, a macluravirus and a potyvirus," said Denis Filloux from CIRAD.
As with human virology, the fact that the technology has now been validated in a plant virology laboratory paves the way for real-time, mobile detection of chronic, seasonal or emerging plant viruses, even in isolated areas, researchers said.
By shortening the time that elapses between sampling and diagnosis, the technology will help detect harmful organisms at an earlier stage, they said.
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