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Paper-Based Multiplex Sensors for the Optical Detection of Plant Stress.

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Zedler, Marie 
Tse, Sze Wai 
Ruiz-Gonzalez, Antonio  ORCID logo
Haseloff, Jim 


The rising population and the ongoing climate crisis call for improved means to monitor and optimise agriculture. A promising approach to tackle current challenges in food production is the early diagnosis of plant diseases through non-invasive methods, such as the detection of volatiles. However, current devices for detection of multiple volatiles are based on electronic noses, which are expensive, require complex circuit assembly, may involve metal oxides with heating elements, and cannot easily be adapted for some applications that require miniaturisation or limit front-end use of electronic components. To address these challenges, a low-cost optoelectronic nose using chemo-responsive colorimetric dyes drop-casted onto filter paper has been developed in the current work. The final sensors could be used for the quantitative detection of up to six plant volatiles through changes in colour intensities with a sub-ppm level limit of detection, one of the lowest limits of detection reported so far using colorimetric gas sensors. Sensor colouration could be analysed using a low-cost spectrometer and the results could be processed using a microcontroller. The measured volatiles could be used for the early detection of plant abiotic stress as early as two days after exposure to two different stresses: high salinity and starvation. This approach allowed a lowering of costs to GBP 1 per diagnostic sensing paper. Furthermore, the small size of the paper sensors allows for their use in confined settings, such as Petri dishes. This detection of abiotic stress could be easily achieved by exposing the devices to living plants for 1 h. This technology has the potential to be used for monitoring of plant development in field applications, early recognition of stress, implementation of preventative measures, and mitigation of harvest losses.


Peer reviewed: True


low-cost, optoelectronic nose, plant stress, sensors, smart agriculture

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Micromachines (Basel)

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NERC-NSF (NE/T012293)