UWA researcher Papori Barua has identified that fungal spores on clothes and equipment can remain viable even after washing.
PHOTO: Catherine Norwood
Resazurin dye is widely used in medical research to identify growing cancer cells, but biosecurity researchers have developed a new application designed to improve the diagnostic capabilities for fungal infections.
Speaking at the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC) Science Exchange, researcher Papori Barua outlined a simple test based on the dye in solution: live spores cause it to change from dark blue to pink.
She says the new test has been developed using the fungal agent responsible for blackleg in canola, Leptosphaeria maculans, as its model, and has since been expanded to several other fungal pathogens.
The resazurin dye can identify viable spores in less than two hours, which is not only much faster but also much more reliable than other techniques available.
Ms Barua says her research has shown how many types of fungal spore are extremely tenacious in their ability to latch on to a wide range of materials, from tyres and machinery to clothes and shoes.
Wash-down facilities for equipment and laundering of clothes are established practices to reduce the movement of fungal contaminants.
However, her research shows some pathogen spores on materials such as cloth and rubber remain alive for up to a year after these treatments.
The next stage of Ms Barua’s research aims to determine whether spores that survive washing are actually capable of infecting plants.
Her findings will likely contribute to revisions of infection control procedures, particularly in cases involving exotic fungal pathogens. It is part of a suite of PBCRC projects designed to improve disease diagnostics and control across Australia.
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