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Dogs Detect Avocado Tree Disease

Avocado trees are under attack. A small, invasive beetle that lives symbiotically with a fungal partner is devastating avocado trees in Florida. The disease, laurel wilt, is hard to detect in its early stages and once the plant shows symptoms, it’s too late to save the tree. If only there was a cost effective and reliable way to spot the disease early.

Enter the agri-dog, scent-sniffing dogs trained to alert to the volatiles of the laurel wilt pathogen. Deployed in avocado groves in Florida, the dogs detected the disease in its early, treatable stage and offer real hope for avocado farmers in Florida, Mexico and Central America.

Florida International University scientists Julian Mendel, Kenneth G. Furton, and DeEtta Mills published their findings in HortTechnology and it can be read here.