GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The spread of Oak wilt is happening quickly across our forests in Minnesota. There are ways you can test the tree for oak wilt, but currently those tests are expensive and can take weeks for results.
At the University of Minnesota, they are trying to change that with a new technology to detect the fungus in a matter of minutes. All you need is a small sample from the tree.
"When you have a wood chip sample you need to get the fungi from it, the pathogen from it, so we developed a small device that can quickly get the fungi from the wood chips," said Abdennour Abbas Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioproducts of Biosystem Engineering UMN.
How does it work? Well, you take the sample of wood, add a solution to extract the DNA and then place the solution between these glass plates coated with a thin layer of gold. The pathogen will then be attracted to the surface of these slides and while it's very small, it can be detected as the oak wilt pathogen.
Right now, the technology can only be performed in this lab, but they plan to make it portable.
"We hope within a year we can try to put those technologies together and try to make a single handheld device for people to use it in the field," said Abdennour.
If the test comes back positive, then there is still time to apply treatments to save the tree. Funding for this research is from The Minnesota Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund.