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Anal Chem. 2019 Jan 8. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b05555. [Epub ahead of print]

Non-Invasive and Non-Destructive Detection of Cowpea Bruchid Within Cowpea Seeds with a Hand-Held Raman Spectrometer.


Insect damage to crops is a serious issue, in particular when the pest dwells within its host. The cowpea bruchid (Callosobruchus maculatus) is an herbivore of legumes including beans and peas. The bruchid lays its eggs on the seeds themselves; after hatching, the larvae burrow into and develop inside the seed, complicating detection and treatment. Left unchecked, two insects could destroy up to 50% of one ton of harvest cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) after several months of storage. In this study, we investigated the possibility of using a hand-held Raman spectrometer to detect the pest during its development within intact cowpeas. Our results show that Raman spectroscopy can detect chemical signatures of bruchid larvae, as well as their excrements inside the intact seeds. Additionally, using chemometric methods, we distinguished between healthy and infested seeds, as well as among seeds hosting developmentally early or late-stage larvae with high accuracy. This study demonstrates Raman spectroscopy's efficacy in not only detection of pathogens and pests present on surface of plant leaves and grain, but also inside the seeds. This Raman-based method may prove useful as a rapid means of screening crops for internal pests.

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