"Broccoli leaves hold key to fighting crop disease"

Israeli researchers have developed a spray to protect crops based on the wax found on lotus and broccoli leaves. They simulated the anti-adhesive wax crystals on their leaves, which naturally prevent disease-bearing pathogens from attaching to the plant.   

SafeWax, developed by Prof Boaz Pokroy and Prof Ester Segal of the Technion in Haifa, northern Israel, is a biodegradable formulation made of renewable material that can be sprayed on any plant and has the same effect as the wax. 

In addition to preventing diseases – that destroy a third of all food crops –  it can be tuned to provide protection from sun damage and collect water from dew condensation. To treat fungal diseases, farmers are forced to use synthetic fungicides, which are effective, but their extensive overuse and misuse have devastating impacts – like being highly toxic to wildlife and the pathogens becoming resistant to the fungicide after a few years of exposure.

The researchers have received a $1.5 million grant for the solution from EIC Pathfinder, the European Innovation Council’s instrument to support early-stage development of high-risk, high-gain technologies that can lead to scientific breakthroughs and make a real difference. 

Profs Pokroy and Segal will demonstrate the SafeWax’s capabilities on the grapevine, a very important crop to Europe’s economy, environment, and culture. It is highly susceptible to fungal diseases and is treated more frequently than any other crop.

Read the complete article at www.nocamels.com.

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