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Ongoing project

Novel technologies to assist rapid and sensitive detection of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (AS19000)

Key research provider: Cesar

What’s it all about?

This investment is developing the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) technology to assist the rapid and sensitive detection of brown marmorated stink bug. An accurate, fast, and cost-effective diagnostic is necessary to improve surveillance power and direct activities towards high risk pathways at the national border. Such a diagnostic tool would also increase capabilities of biosecurity personnel to quickly delimit the extent of a post-border outbreak.

Interceptions of the brown marmorated stink bug at Australian ports have been increasing in number for several years. The increased risk of transmission has arisen from establishment of the bug in countries that actively trade with Australia, such as the US and Italy.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an innovative species detection tool being used in Australia and overseas for a range of activities in the fields of biosecurity, biodiversity conservation and environmental impact assessments.  All organisms leave traces of their DNA in their surrounding environment and this technology now makes it possible to take environmental samples to determine what species were present in real-time. These molecular techniques detect trace amounts of DNA and are therefore an exciting prospect for integration into biosecurity activities to prevent incursions and also delimit outbreak areas. 

In this project, eDNA based assays and sampling protocols will be developed and validated for the real-time detection of the pest at ports and in the field to increase the sensitivity and cost-efficiency of detection of this species in biosecurity activities. The eDNA methods and assays will be field-tested as part of a collaborative project with Plant and Food Research New Zealand in an outbreak area such as Santiago, Chile, with sensitivity and cost-efficiency modelling used to determine optimised sampling protocols for Australia and New Zealand. Environmental DNA research overseas has shown how eDNA is a more sensitive approach than other detection methods.  This project will build on this research to establish eDNA as a key detection tool for brown marmorated stink bug surveillance and outbreak activities in Australia and New Zealand. 

This project will improve awareness of brown marmorated stink bug and eDNA technology among biosecurity personnel and industry development officers through the development of education material and on the ground training. The development of eDNA assays for the pest will provide front-line biosecurity agencies with the knowledge and capacity to adopt new eDNA methods for other high priority plant pests of biosecurity significance in Australia and New Zealand.