Avocado-loving dog lovers, this one’s for you! Researchers and avocado grove owners had been scratching their heads over a disease that has been taking a chunk out of the avocado business. When avocado trees in Florida began dying, the cause was found to be laurel wilt, a disease that claimed the life of the tree before anyone could diagnose and treat it.
But now, researchers have found an incredible way to save the avocados (and make sure your burrito addiction remains intact): DOGS.
First, researchers use drones to scope out trees that are at risk using a camera that picks up on the tiny microscopic beetles that carry the fungus that causes laurel wilt. Then, dogs are sent out to sniff at-risk trees. Their hypersensitive noses pick up on traces of the fungus and they’re trained to sit when they find an infected tree.
“It’s such a difficult thing for them to do, is to sniff out a fungus that’s inside of a tree. It’s not like drugs in somebody’s pocket,” said microbiologist DeEtta Mills from Florida International University.
Scientists hope to get the problem in Florida under control before it spreads to California, where most of the avocados grown in the US come from.
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