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Novel diagnostic methods for the detection of pests and diseases of statutory concern - PH0178

DEFRA currently spends approximately £1.6M p.a. on provision of diagnostic services in Plant Health. There is continuing pressure on DEFRA Plant Health Services to increase the level of monitoring for statutory organisms in compliance with both National and EU Plant Health legislation. Thus either the total budget will need to be increased or the cost per sample reduced to achieve this aim. There exists considerable opportunity to both reduce the cost of testing, as well as improving the quality of response, through the development and adoption of appropriate novel diagnostic methodology.

A number of novel diagnostic methods will be evaluated for the detection and diagnosis of a range of plant pests and pathogens of Plant Health concern, using pests of current statutory concern as model systems. Methods will include those for which CSL is uniquely well equipped and staffed and will involve collaboration between biologists, analytical chemists and physical chemists. These methods will allow for future improvement of the provision and performance of diagnostic services carried out on behalf of Plant Health Division, applicable to a wide range of pests, pathogens and GMOs.

The methods to be addressed in this proposal will include:

Targeting functional genes for diagnostic markers for quarantine invertebrates
Headspace detection of plant pathogens
Use of Bionumerics software for using complex data sets in diagnostic protocols (inc. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry)
5’ fluorogenic nuclease assay (TaqMan) detection of bacterial pathogens.

The model organisms to be used will include:

Viruses: Potato virus X (resistance and non-resistance breaking strains)
Potato virus S (ordinary and Andean strain)
Potato virus Y
Bacteria: Potato ring-rot organism
Potato brown rot organism
Xanthomonas fragariae
Insect: Thrips palmi
Nematode: Aphelenchoides besseyi

1. To assess the usefulness of micro-array ("lab on a chip") technology for the detection of statutory pathogens.

2. To assess the use of modern diagnostic methods to develop specific molecular probes for invertebrate pests.

3. To continue a study of the detection of plant pathogens by analysis of volatile compounds

4. To evaluate the use of genetic fingerprinting for rapid identification of bacteria, fungi and invertebrates

5. To look at the use of software for handling complex data sets in diagnostic protocols.

6. To develop a multiplex method for the simultaneous detection of the potato ring rot and brown rot pathogens by TaqMan.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Final Report   (554k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2004

Cost: £184,538
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Alien Species              
Disease Control              
Pest Control              
Plant health              
Plant Pests and Diseases              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Plant Health