August 23, 2019 – A recent study published in Genes, Tree Lab: Portable genomics for early detecting of plant viruses and pests in Sub-Saharan Africa, demonstrates a technical breakthrough in the ability to conduct bacterial DNA extraction and genomic analysis in the field. Drs. Jo Stanton and Laura Boykin, along with others from the Cassava Virus Action Project, used MicroGEM's PDQeX Nucleic Acid Extractor and portable sequencing technologies to conduct real-time identification of viral pathogens in a farmer’s field setting.

Eight hundred million people rely on the cassava plant for food and income, and viral diseases play a significant role in wiping out entire crops. The ability to detect these pathogens in the field represents a major step forward in crop management for subsistence farmers across the world.

Working with difficult plant samples with no power, infrastructure, or internet, the researchers successfully conducted real-time DNA extraction and next-gen sequencing on samples collected from cassava plants in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The entire process, from sample collection to extraction to sequencing, was completed in only a few hours. This represents a departure from the weeks previously required to receive test results. Farmers were quickly able to identify which plants were infected and had to be discarded.

MicroGEM is committed to bringing complex molecular techniques out of laboratories and into the field. Its temperature-driven, enzymatic single-tube process simplifies the number of steps for traditional nucleic acid extraction and uses no harsh chemicals. This approach results in high-quality extracts with reduced contamination and high yields – all in minutes, not hours. The PDQeX is compact and can be run on a battery or plugged in, making it a simple, affordable solution for rapid extractions in the laboratory or at the point of need.

MicroGEM’s reagent kits are optimized to work with either the PDQeX or existing laboratory thermocyclers. All kits are available at


Stanton J, Muralidhar A, Rand CJ, Saul DJ (2019). Rapid extraction of DNA suitable for NGS workflows from bacterial cultures using PDQeX. BioTechniques 66:5. (pdf)

Shaffer, L (2019). Portable DNA sequencer helps farmers stymie devastating viruses. PNAS 116:9, 3351-3353. (pdf)