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Department of Geography

Sniffing out imminent danger

Every plant has a distinctive smell. In a healthy state, this smell is quite subtle. But that changes as soon as caterpillars and beetles start feeding on the plant. "Plants use their odours to attract the enemies of their enemies, for example," says Meredith Schuman, a chemical ecologist at GIUZ.

Sniff out imminent danger

Meredith Schuman wants to decode the olfactory language of plants to find out about the health of an entire field. To do this, she is working with engineers at ETH Zurich. They have developed a device that detects the "fear sweat" of plants. This should make it possible to apply pesticides more precisely in the future.

Nützlicher Angstschweiss (in German)
NZZ am Sonntag, 03.12.2023

Image: Freepik | wirestock


C. Geckeler, S. E. Ramos, M. C. Schuman and S. Mintchev: Robotic Volatile Sampling for Early Detection of Plant Stress: Precision Agriculture Beyond Visual Remote Sensing in IEEE Robotics Automation Magazine, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 41-51, Dec. 2023
doi: 10.1109/MRA.2023.3315932.

Weiterführende Informationen


Meredith Schuman, Prof. Dr.
Spatial Genetics, Department of Geography

Phone +41 44 63 55162