The quality of diagnostic information and the speed at which it is collected has a direct effect on containment or eradication activities and, therefore, supply chain continuity.
A rate limiting factor for informed decision-making during incursion response is the delimitation of pest distribution from the initial detection site. Fortunately, species often leave indicators of their presence via trace amounts of DNA (environmental DNA). For example, a leafmining fly will leave DNA in its leafmines and in its frass, which we can detect using eDNA diagnostic techniques to confirm the identity of the pest.
Further, even within species there is variation in the risk that specific pests posed to production industries and it is becoming increasingly important to consider exotic incursions on a genetic level (‘genetic incursions’) in order to mitigate risks.
Cesar Australia activities within the wider Rural R&D for Profit project ‘Boosting diagnostics capacity for plant production industries’ aim to increase the effectiveness of verifying pest spread and establishment by:
– Developing resources to support building industry capacity in identification
– Analysing priority pests to identify good candidates for eDNA diagnostics and development of probes for high risk biotypes.
– Identifying and prioritising risks posed by genetic variants of exotic High Priority Plant Pests, and development of protocols for high risk biotypes.
The project is part of the collaborative program ‘Boosting diagnostic capacity for plant industries’. Funding for this project is from the Rural R&D for Profit Program, Federal Department of Agriculture and Water, and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, with funds from other RDC’s – Sugar RDC, Wine Australia, Cotton RDC, Forestry RDC, and Hort Innovation.