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Ongoing project

Avocado industry biosecurity capacity building (AV16010)

Key research provider: The University of Queensland

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.

 

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.  

ACT NOW

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.

Related levy funds
Details

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund