Avocado industry biosecurity capacity building (AV16010)
What’s it all about?
This investment began in late 2017 to bolster biosecurity for the avocado industry. It is tasked with developing new diagnostic protocols for high-risk biosecurity threats to the industry, such as avocado scab fungus Sphaceloma perseae, and maintaining existing diagnostic protocols for quarantinable pests and pathogens.
The project is also monitoring emerging biosecurity threats to allow rapid responses to any incursions that arise, and providing diagnostic support for other levy-funded avocado plant health projects.
As part of the work, the researchers are also specifically looking at the diversity of scolytid beetles and associated fungi affecting avocados in Australia.
The project team has trialled Checkpoint, a pest and pathogen surveillance tool that was developed by the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, but found that it had has various shortcomings and was therefore not adopted by the avocado industry.
An alternative surveillance app called AgKonect has been found to be more useful. This app can be customised by the user for different purposes and has excellent software support. As such, AgKonect has been adopted for use in the avocado sunblotch survey project.
Read more about the project in this article Demonstrating pest-freedom from avocado sunblotch viroid with a smartphone app and improved detection methods, published on page 63 of the Autumn 2020 edition of Talking Avocados.
The research team continues to make progress on bolstering biosecurity for the avocado industry. Some key recent achievements include:
- Developing new knowledge of novel Fusarium species associated with Euwallacea beetle-vectored dieback in Australia.
- Validating the real time tests that were developed for the exotic biosecurity threat, Elsinoë perseae, which causes avocado fruit scab, for testing with avocado leaf and fruit tissue
- Completion of the annual review of biosecurity threats, which was published in the winter issue of Talking Avocados which you can read here.
Now halfway through the investment, key outcomes of the project to date have included:
- Development of two real time tests for detecting the exotic avocado fruit scab fungus, Elsinoë perseae
- A large collection of ambrosia beetles was gathered from trees in avocado growing regions in Queensland with many species identified
- A collection of fungal isolates associated with Fusarium dieback of avocado trees was established, with identification underway
- Reference specimens of high priority exotic pest and disease threats to industry were obtained through international collaborations, improving the ability to identify those species should they make it to Australia.
Together the components will build to make the Australian avocado industry more sustainable, through limiting the introduction or spread of new pests and diseases as well as greater trade access by knowing more about pests already in growing regions.
- Read an article on the project ‘Xylella fastidiosa, a high priority biosecurity threat for the Australian avocado industry’ on the Avocados Australia website.
With this investment completing its first year in late 2018, key activities and achievements of the project to date have included…
- Establishment of the Australian Avocado Plant Health biosecurity network – a group of industry members and experts that is involved in the monitoring and reporting of avocado pest and disease issues nationally, through the use of the industry’s Checkpoint tool (formerly known as Pestpoint).
- Reviews of major biosecurity threats including Laurel wilt and Fusarium dieback, both of which involve ambrosia beetles (Xyleborus glabratus and Euwallacea aff. fornicates). A biosecurity update was provided to growers off the back of this, available from p54 of the spring 2018 edition of the levy-funded Talking Avocados magazine. There was also investigation of avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd) in Australia – with information on the latter being provided to the government for potential inclusion in the Biosecurity Act, and prepared for this scientific journal article.
- Surveying and sampling. This included ambrosia beetle surveys that were undertaken on the Atherton Tableland and in the Bundaberg/Childers region, with fungal isolates also taken from the beetle brooding areas in avocado tree branches with Fusarium dieback for further study and applications throughout the project.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund