Using the MARPLE kit to diagnose wheat rust in Ethiopia

MARPLE (Mobile and Real-time PLant disEase) Diagnostics is a revolutionary mobile lab developed by a team from the John Innes Centre (JIC), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). It uses nanopore sequence technology to rapidly diagnose and monitor wheat rust in farmers’ fields.

Designed to be used without constant electricity and in varying temperatures, the suitcase-sized lab allows researchers to identify wheat rust to strain level in just 48 hours — something that used to take months using other tools.

The MARPLE team was recognized as Innovator of the Year for international impact in 2019 by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).