Odour sensors to combat plant pests

The presence of pesticide residues in food is a problem for human health. To reduce the use of these pesticides, researchers at the University of Neuchâtel are developing a system that detects warning signals emitted by plants attacked by pests. Rapid detection of pests allows for earlier, and therefore more limited, use of pesticides. (RTS,

This content was published on April 19, 2018

The team led by Ted Turlings, professor of biology at the University of Neuchâtel, discovered that when they are attacked, the plants emit a mixture of odorous molecules specific to the type of aggression. Hence the idea of ​​creating sensors to quickly determine the type of aggression.

The majority (80%) of this research, on maize plants, was carried out in Neuchâtel. But other academic institutions were also involved in the project: the University of Bern, the University of Missouri, the Universidad del Mar in Mexico and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The European Research Council has allocated a budget of around €2.5 million (CHF3 million) over five years.

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