[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER: Plant pathogens like powdery mildews have been attacking plants for millions of years. They have done so in historical setting and evolutionary setting of continuous cycles of light and darkness. Sunrise and sunset. It's not surprising in that evolutionary environment, they have evolved to sense, interpret, and use light to direct their development.
Powdery mildews as are unusual among plant pathogens in that they are growing entirely outside the host. They are on the surface of the plants that they are attacking. This places them in a location where they are very exposed to UV light from the sun. They can survive because they have a very active biochemical repair mechanism that fixes damage from natural sources of UV, as soon as that occurs. The breakthrough that was made in our research was that they actually turn off this repair mechanism at night. This makes them especially vulnerable to exposure to UV during night hours. And that's what we do to control them with UV. We expose them during the night.
Cornell AgriTech is partnered with a number of institutions and companies around the world to get this information off the drawing board and into farmer's fields. Each member of the team has an important mission. Our work is focused on the use of UV for controlled and powdery mildews, in both greenhouse environments and in the field.
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The Light and Plant Health project team, led by Cornell AgriTech’s David Gadoury, has refined the science and applied technology behind using ultraviolet (UV) light to kill the fungi that causes powdery mildew, a fungus that affects nearly all crops.