Recent serious outbreaks of pathogens such as Chalara Fraxinea, (Ash Dieback) demonstrate the vulnerability of UK’s forests, woods, and trees. Early detection of threats is critical in the fight against such tree pests and pathogens. This requires a process for collecting and analysing the spores which is robust, flexible and can be deployed rapidly, but which also has sufficient sensitivity to detect the earliest precursors. The work presented here describes a newly-developed high-efficiency detection apparatus and is part of an ongoing BBRSC project to improve the UK’s biosecurity. Our automatic spore system is capable of collecting and analysing Chalara Fraxinea using a novel cyclonic pathogen collector. Cyclones are an effective way to separate small particles (spores) from large quantities of surrounding air and store them for analysis. Our system incorporates a purpose-designed high efficiency cyclone directly integrated with a low power custom impeller to maximise volumetric air sampling while minimising the power requirement. 3D printing was used extensively to validate theoretical models and the particle collection and retention capability of this series of prototypes was evaluated experimentally within our Aerosol test chamber. We found that we could collect greater than 90% of particulate in the target size range, thus providing a front-end to a detection platform. Our system is capable of operating autonomously and at low power, with a high sensitivity to ambient particles. The final system design incorporates the use of multiple cyclone storage vessels ensuring complete isolation of each sample, eradicating cross-contamination, and facilitating automated handling of the sample inside the same apparatus. COTS – commercial off the shelf components were incorporated into the cyclone to make a series of cost effective collection vessels. Early collection and detection of pathogens in-situ represents a considerable advance in surveillance and monitoring of pathogens strengthening UK biosecurity for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017
EventInnovation in plant biosecurity 2017 - Fera Science Ltd (Fera), National Agri-Food Innovation Campus, Sand Hutton, York, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Mar 201716 Feb 2018


ConferenceInnovation in plant biosecurity 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Biosecurity
  • Cyclone
  • Chalara Fraxinea
  • impeller


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