A recently published research suggests that dogs can save the diseased citrus groves.
Scientists have been able to train canines to sniff out a crop disease called citrus greening that has recently hit lemon, orange and grapefruit orchards in California, Florida, and Texas. The dog can detect the disease weeks or up to a year before it actually shows up on the leaves and roots of the trees.
Timothy Gottwald, who is a researcher at the US Department of Agriculture, said that the dog’s nose was a technology that had been available for thousands of years. The scientists have now started using this technology to hunt down a bacteria that causes a crop-damaging disease.
Getting dog detectives to sniff out the disease is cheaper and faster. The procedure is more effective than people collecting hundreds of leaves and then getting them analyzed in the lab.
Citrus greening is caused by bacteria, which is spread by a tiny insect that feeds on the stems and the leaves of citrus trees. No cure has been found as of yet for the infected trees.
The disease is also found in South and Central America and even Asia.
In an experiment conducted in a grapefruit orchard in Texas, the dogs showed 95% accuracy in distinguishing between healthy trees and those who were newly infected.
Gottwald said that the earlier you were able to detect a disease, the better odds you had to stop an epidemic.
Laura Sims, a plant scientist, said that she was impressed by the effort in the research to find whether the dogs were sniffing out the plant’s response to the disease or they were sniffing out the bacteria.
The researchers had infected numerous unrelated plants with the bacteria in a laboratory, and the canines were still able to identify the plants that were affected.
Image source: Gavin Poole via Chron