Development of a Passive Spore Sampler for Capture Enhancement of Airborne Crop Pathogens

James Blackhall, Jie Wang, Mostafa Nabawy BSc, MSc, PhD, MRAeS, SMAIAA, FHEA, Mark Quinn, Bruce Grieve

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Yellow rust spores currently blight commercial and domestic wheat production in areasof East Africa such as Ethiopia. Yellow rust is a hazard to crops which appears asymptomatic for a time, but inevitably causes significant losses in yield once symptoms of infection manifest themselves to the point where they can be readily observed by the naked eye. Regionally recurrent losses of up to 5% are common and reach as high as 25% in rare cases. Historically, spore sampling has been undertaken by large, cumbersome devices that require heavy power supplies and significant expertise to reliably operate. Moreover, tools for the design and development of such
devices are currently limited. This paper, therefore, proposes design and testing processes to develop a spore sampling device that is compact, passive (requires no power to operate), and can better direct spores onto a biomimetic sensor platform enhancing the capture and detection of pathogens. This represents a novel design context for fluidic devices. Performance of the device has
been simulated using Lagrangian particle tracking embedded into computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, demonstrating significant improvements across a range of spore Stokes numbers. Experimental validation of numerical simulations was performed using wind tunnel testing and practical performance such as weathervaning was demonstrated. Results show that that the developed sampler is capable of enhancing the probability of yellow rust spores interacting with an internal sensor by a factor of between 20 and 25; demonstrating the effectiveness of the developed design.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Issue number97
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2020


  • sampler
  • spore capture
  • fluidic multiplier
  • wind tunnel
  • numerical simulation
  • Stokes number


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