The MAHT-FunSST project: Microfluidic Lab-on-chip for High-Throughput Fungicide Screening
Fungicide development and screening is stuck in an innovation gap, in which it incurs staggering expenses and takes many years to get a fungicide to market. Furthermore, many pathogens develop resistance against fungicides which necessitates the sensitivity screening and recalled fungicides.
A-C: Early development of EB symptoms on leaves – D-E: EB symptoms on potato tubers
Fungicides have become an integral part of agriculture for efficient food production. The loss of a fungicide through resistance is a problem that affects us all. Recently, early blight (EB) (Alternaria spp.) appeared with increasing frequency in European potato fields and occurred in Africa, America, Asia and Australia. Several fungicides are sprayed to control the disease and resistance against EB fungi have been reported. Scientists study fungicide sensitivity on cellular, organismal or field level for better understanding of fungicide distribution and to manage the resistance effectively. Also, before new fungicides are launched, a baseline sensitivity should be established. The conventional techniques to screen fungicides and to identify the resistance are time consuming and laborious.
In order to perform fungicide screening and baseline sensitivity testing, microfluidic labs-on-chips with multiplexed cell culture chambers can emerge as an efficient platform compared to conventional agar plates and high-density well plates. Microfluidic labs-on-chips have been developed in many fields since they have numerous advantages compared to traditional screenings, such as low reagent consumption, manipulation of cell number and density, monitoring of a high spatial and temporal resolution and observation of the dynamic behavior of many cells. Furthermore, new insights into fungicide mode of action can be obtained. Labs-on-chips create a uniquely accurate method for observing the biological responses providing a more comprehensive analysis which could ultimately revolutionize how fungicides are developed and how to control the development of fungicide resistance in fungi.
PDMS microfluidic chip fabrication and screening of fungicide efficacy on chip
One of our primary objectives is to establish a simple microfluidic lab-on-chip to perform high throughput (HT) fungicide screening studies into droplets. Fungal spores will be encapsulated individually in droplets produced on chip, germinated and grown, and finally put in contact with fungicides. Elvesys microfluidic equipments, and in particular our pressure controller OB1, will allow a precise control of the flow rates of each liquid and the controlled encapsulation of fungi and fungicides.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 MSCA-IF under grant agreement No 843162 (MAHT-FunSST).
Dr. Sehrish IFTIKHAR
- PhD in Agriculture Plant Pathology (University of the Punjab, Pakistan)
- Master of Science in Agriculture Plant Pathology (University of the Punjab, Pakistan)
- Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Plant Pathology (University of the Punjab, Pakistan)
AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Agricultural plant pathology, fungicide discovery and design, fungicide screening, fungicide resistance and sensitivity, molecular microbe-plant interaction