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Description of qPCR

A complete molecular analysis workflow is being developed by STMicroelectronics (ST), Italy. The actual analysis will be run on the “Q3” portable device designed by ST, which implements the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR; the gold-standard molecular technique). The aim is to analyze crops of interest for the involved African countries – like maize, peanut, sorghum, wheat, and coffee – looking for mycotoxin-producing fungi.

The development activity involves three main aspects:

1) An easy sample preparation procedure will be conceived to extract DNA from the crops. The samples will be provided to ST by other partners.

2) Regarding qPCR, the target DNA sequences to be detected will be jointly defined. The sequences will belong to fungal genes involved in the biosynthesis of mycotoxins. After a set-up phase on gold-standard qPCR equipment, the qPCR reactions will be ported onto the “Q3” qPCR device. Optimization tests will be run analyzing samples processed with the developed sample preparation procedure. The Q3 performance will be benchmarked against a gold-standard qPCR instrument, and also against another standard technique.

3) A Q3 software dedicated to EWA-BELT will be developed. Such software will be very easy to use and automatically interpret the raw results – showing “positive” or “negative” for each targeted mycotoxin. In this way, even people not experts in molecular techniques will be able to use the platform, after minimal training.


The output files will be uploadable to a dedicated repository on the PLANTHEAD platform, where all the data generated in the project will be gathered.

After the first phase of development and optimization, training for potential end users in Africa will be organized. All the material and know-how necessary to execute the complete workflow will be transferred to selected African partners.

Overall, the goal is to make molecular analyses more accessible, thanks to the portability, ease of use, and lower cost of the Q3 platform compared to standard qPCR equipment.

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