3 September 1999

New testing kit for spud virus

A NEW rapid single-step mosaic virus testing kit for potatoes will be launched at Potato 99 in Lincs next week.

Developed by CSL pathologists Chris Danks and Ian Barker, and inspired by the home pregnancy test used by Dr Barkers wife, the new kit confirms the presence of PVY and PVX in minutes.

That is much quicker than the fastest ELISA-based tests, which take 10-15mins, says Mr Danks.

The new kit consists of extraction bottles containing ball bearings and a reagent. A sample of suspect leaf is introduced and shaken, and two drops of the resulting solution placed in a small plastic device containing a membrane screen. Blue labelled lines indicate virus.

"Its not quantitative, but the idea is that it gives growers a chance to confirm that symptoms they see in the field are caused by virus." Field trials this summer on 500 samples compared the results with a laboratory ELISA test. The kit was 99% accurate. Cost is £5/test.

CSL hopes to develop the concept to detect blight too. &#42