iGEM ULethbridge 2023
Canola Disease Detection
Our aim is to create a cheap and easy to use detection kit that can help Alberta Farmers check their crops for Plasmodiophora brassicae, a soil-borne pathogen that causes the disease known as Clubroot.
What Is Clubroot?
Clubroot Is Spreading
So What Is Clubroot?
Clubroot is a soil-borne disease caused by the pathogen Plasmodiophora brassicae. The disease affects plants in the Brassicaceae family which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, turnips. This family however also Includes Canola, an important crop grown in Western Canada.
Why is it so bad?
Plants infected with this disease will grow swollen and misshapen roots described as gulls or clubs which greatly affect the plant’s water and nutrient uptake leading to reduced growth and yield.
A Local Issue
860,000 acres of Canola
And all of them are at risk
Alberta is responsible for producing 1/3 of Canada’s Canola. Lethbridge and surrounding areas of Southern Alberta are especially large in production of this crop with over 860,000 acres in canola crops.
It's Already Affecting Us
67% of Counties Suffer
Two thirds of counties have reported Clubroot
20 years ago, there was no prevalence of Clubroot found in Alberta and now nearly 67% of counties and districts are known to contain Clubroot and the disease continues to spread outwards from central Alberta. Lethbridge having yet to present the disease lies on the outer cusps of its progression.
The Current Detection Strategy
$95 Per PCR Test!
Currently the only way to detect Clubroot is with a PCR test which is can be very expensive to perform. Not only that but the process involves complex laboratory techniques and equipment, including specialized reagents and instruments, which require skilled technicians to operate and maintain. This porcess can take up to 1 week or longer to obtain results.
Acres of Canola
Time for Results
Our Detection Method
On Site, Instant Results
Our detection system would involve test strips that would be very similar to the rapid-antigen test strips on the market like pregnancy, malaria, and Covid-19 kits.
We have rationally designed and engineered chimeric fluorescent probes such as, COAPE-GFP (BBa_K4139027), that will recognize structurally conserved epitopes on the pathogenic proteins present in Clubroot infected fields with one of our primary targets being PbEL04 protein (BBa_K4139021).
Our preliminary results have shown that our chimeric fluorescent probe does interact with PbEL04 as a proof of concept. Now, the next steps will be to determine the specificity and sensitivity of the engineered chimeric probe with infected Clubroot soil and root samples.
Following that we plan to move forward in making our Clubroot test strip where we would modify and re-engineer our chimeric probe to contain a lysine rich region where it can be conjugated with colloidal gold. Once conjugated, the protein could be used in the previously mentioned test kits.
If PbEL04 is present, the chimeric protein, CAPE-AFP (BBa_K4139025), will be active by visible light and give off a signal confirming a positive result.
Explore the Rest of Our Project
Comprising fifteen undergrad and graduate students, the UofL iGEM team boasts diverse backgrounds encompassing expertise in fields such as neuroscience, biochemistry, and computer science.
For a comprehensive yet succinct understanding of our project, please refer to the Project Description page. Notable factors that significantly shaped our project's evolution and align with our mission to drive societal change include:
Integrated Human Practices
Discover How We Integrated Human Practices into Every Step of Our iGEM Project: Bridging Science with Societal Responsibility!
Revolved around the project, entrepreneurship drives innovative solutions towards real-world impact.
Check out our community outreach efforts in Lethbridge and dive into our educational videos, crafted by our wet lab team, offering practical lab insights for future teams.
Learn more about our project's main goals, its overall scope, and the reasons we started it. Get a straightforward overview of what we're aiming to achieve and why it matters to us.
Want to know more about our project?
Check Out These Videos!
Check out our team's Promotional Video: Engineering a Direct Detection Assay for Clubroot Pathogen in Canola Soil and Roots
Global News Interview
See our PI get interviewed about our project! Here is the link to the full interview: full interview and article here