UPDATE: Improving industry access to new genetics through improved diagnostics using next generation sequencing

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Rapid and safe access to new plant genetic stocks is crucial for the greenlife industry to remain profitable, sustainable, and internationally competitive.

To reduce the time greenlife spends in quarantine, a new, quicker process is being developed which would give industry access to new genetic stocks sooner.

Funded by Hort Innovation and led by The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in collaboration with Australian post entry quarantine (PEQ) facilities, the ‘Improving plant industry access to new genetics through faster and more accurate diagnostics using next generation sequencing (NGS)’ (MT18005) project is currently developing the framework which will set a standard procedure for test operation, meaning each test will be completed the same way, every time.

The project which began July 2019 is using genetic testing to detect viruses and viroids in imported plant material. In partnership with Agriculture Victoria led by Fiona Constable the project is also advancing the detection of bacterial pathogens using next generation sequencing technologies.

A software toolkit was developed from the test learnings of more than 300 plants which will enable PEQ facilities to potentially reduce quarantine times. Technical advances achieved in the project are informing the implementation of a policy framework to enable routine testing of imported plants using the new technology.

Currently Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment staff are being trained in data analytics using the software toolkit, and appropriate IT infrastructure resources are being made available, to ensure the country is upskilled to handle the new testing processes.

Once complete the project will revolutionise the process of plant quarantine and potentially lead to a 5 to 10 percent increase in profitability for the greenlife sector. The completed project will detect existing, new, and emerging pests of biosecurity concern, making the industry more resilient and drastically accelerating quarantine testing periods.

This project is expected to end in December 2022, so stay tuned for further updates.

For further information head to: https://www.mdpi.com/2079-7737/11/2/263 or please contact Senior Bioinformatics Solutions Architect eResearch, Research Infrastructure, Roberto Barrero Gumiel at: Roberto Barrero Gumiel roberto.barrero@qut.edu.au

The ‘Improving plant industry access to new genetics through faster and more accurate diagnostics using next generation sequencing (NGS)’ (MT18005) project is funded by Hort Innovation, using the Hort Innovation Citrus, Grape Tables, Rubus, Potato and Nursery research and development levy, co-investment from Queensland University of Technology and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.