Bio Detection K9 Partners With Purdue University to Train Canines to Detect Diseases in Cannabis and Hemp

Cannabis Business Times writes…

One company is working with Purdue University to train canines to detect diseases in hemp and cannabis plants.

Columbus, Ohio-based Bio Detection K9 (BDK9) offers canine and technology-based services to detect viruses and pathogens in human hosts and agricultural settings. The company recently partnered with Purdue University to develop processes for training canines to detect diseases in hemp and cannabis crops.

William Schneider, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at BDK9, says the company’s initial goal was to train canines to detect tree diseases.

“Those projects went particularly well, and then in the process of figuring out how that worked, we came across better methods that allowed us to train dogs to detect pathogens somewhat directly,” he says.

According to its website, since 2011, the company has trained canines to detect the following diseases in agricultural settings: citrus canker, huanglongbing (a bacterial disease of citrus), plum pox virus in peaches and plums, and four separate viral diseases in tomatoes. The company has also trained canines to screen humans for the COVID-19 virus.

Schneider says as BDK9 began to develop these processes, it started to think about what commodities could benefit from these services.

“Typically, because canines as a detection tool are somewhat pricey in terms of per plant diagnostics, we tended to focus on plant systems and cropping systems where individual plant value was quite high, [and] we knew that cannabis was a growing field,” he says.

Schneider says that he knew Janna Beckerman, Ph.D., professor of plant pathology in the Department of Botany at Purdue University, from her previous work studying diseases in cannabis plants, adding that the company then decided to partner with the university to advance its processes for training canines to detect diseases in cannabis crops.

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