- Human Practices
Fujian province, where Xiamen University is located, is a famous tea production base nominated for the hometown of tea, plays a vital role in China and even around the world. In 2019, the yield of tea in Fujian reached 410,000 tons, with income of 29.7 billion yuan. Tea production has become not only the pillar industry of Fujian, but also its business card to the world. With the development of modern tea planting industry, herbicides appear in tea plantations.
Fig. 1 The annual production and output value of tea in Fujian
This year, we decided to focus on the problems that tea food industry is facing. In January 2020, for understanding the current situation of tea diseases, pests and agricultural residues, we went to Wuyi Mount, Fujian Province to do researches.
Our team members visited Huo Da, the teacher of Wuyi College; Huang Shixiong, the agronomic master of Wuyi Agricultural and Rural Bureau and Zhong Xingwang, the director of Wuyi Tea Quality Inspection Institute. Through communicating with Mr. Huo and Mr.Huang, we learned that a variety of physical, chemical and biological methods had been developed to deal with the problems of tea diseases and pests, had a better understanding of the advantages and limitations of biological pesticides. In conclusion, the vitality of tea trees is very tenacious. Diseases and pests are not the main issues plaguing in the safety aspect of tea foods, pesticide and herbicide residues are greater hidden danger.
To solve the problem of herbicide’s over-application and residues in tea food, Director Xingwang Zhong gave our team greater inspiration. On the one hand, the problems of agricultural residues need to be control in a timely manner for the export of tea and the long-term development of tea plantations. On the other hand, herbicides like glyphosate are currently used in tea cultivation even have no national standard agricultural residue detection methods. It gave us a good direction to develop convenient detection methods for herbicides with incomplete testing standards.
Fig. 2 Team members are communicating with Director Zhong
During the further discussion and brainstorm, our team started to wonder if we could solve the problem from its origin, so we decided develop a new technology to degrade the glyphosate residue in tea leaves. However, we realized that the farmers are unwilling to use bacteria on tea leaves, which may arise more safety issues. So we changed our project's target to develop a method that can degrade the glyphosate in soil. We hope the degradation system we design can efficiently cut the absorption of glyphosate in tea food.
These investigations gave our team a better understanding of the tea culture and tea industry in Wuyi Mount. It was a great inspiration for our team to turn our attention to the development of synthetic biology methods to solve the glyphosate residues problems on tea.
But it was the origin version of our project, we lately improved our project for more than 4 times and finally formed the final version AnTea-Glyphosate. You can see more details about why and how we updated the project version at the page of Integrated Human Practices.
Tea is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. For a long period, a large amount of glyphosate has been used as a herbicide, which raises a severe problem of pesticide residues in tea food. XMU-China aims at developing an efficient glyphosate detection and degradation system. For the detection system, glyphosate is degraded by several enzymes and then transferred into a measurable fluorescence signal caused by the NADPH; and the degradation system plans to disintegrate glyphosate to be AMPA to minimize the toxicity. Two suicide switches controlled by different inducers are also projected. It is hoped that this project could provide new ideas for the detection and degradation of pesticide residues. Taking care of the earth by tiny bacteria, we here promise a better future of tea.