Researchers in Taiwan have developed a biochip capable of detection several virus in banana and potatoes, Focus Taiwan reports.
The chip was developed by Chang Chin-an, a professor at Chaoyang University of Technology, in conjunction with biochip manufacturing company Dr. Chip Biotechnology.
It is able to test for several viruses simultaneously, which Chang says is crucial to giving it its edge over other currently available methods.
The chip is anticipated for commercial release in mid-2014, with annual sales estimated at NT$200-300m (US$6.8-10.2m).
Bananas and potatoes are major crops susceptible to filterable viruses that threaten production yields and quality.
According to Chang, the chip will improve the efficiency of testing. Conventional testing methods check for one virus at a time and take at least five hours.
By contrast, the chip can simultaneously check for three banana viruses and five potato viruses.
It can also significantly reduce testing costs. Every year, approximately US$200m is spent worldwide on conventional testing methods, with each test for three banana viruses costing around NT$360 (US$12).
The biochip would be capable of halving that, says Chang.
Wang Shin-hwan, president of Dr. Chip Biotechnology, added that the chips meets European Union testing standards and had already undergone a feasibility assessment.