National banana bunchy top virus management - maintenance of surveillance intensity (BA11025)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
New and developing technologies were being utilised and investigated in the National Banana Bunchy Top project in the battle to eradicate Bunchy Top from Australia. A new science based strategy built around new surveillance and data recording technology was giving the project its greatest ever chance of success.
High definition aerial photography had the resolution capacity to detect abandoned banana plantations and clumps of banana plants in bushland, backyards and peri-urban areas which may have been infected with the Bunchy Top virus and providing a source of infection to ‘clean’ plants and commercial plantations. Locating wild “seeded” banana plants in bushland had been made possible by this technology. They represented a potential source of the Bunchy Top virus and the viable seed could be easily dispersed by birds and native animals.
Other technologies such as Infrared Spectral Reflectance, imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), digital cadastral mapping were all being assessed for their suitability to this project.
Hand-held Personal Data Assistant units (PDA’s) had been introduced and were being used to accurately locate each infected plant and record details of the infection. Software programs were developed by Barry Sullivan of the project team specifically for this Bunchy Top project, with the capacity for expansion into other disease surveillance uses within the banana industry.
This technology had greatly increased the capacity of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus project inspectors to contain and reduce disease levels within known affected areas and improve the surveillance capacity outside these areas to ensure the exact extent of spread of the disease was known.
Understanding how the BBTV symptoms could sometimes occur and could not be explained by aphid transfer and the normal incubation period was another subject of research being undertaken by Dr John Thomas. The possibility of latency or symptomless infection was also being investigated. This research was critical to the management of the disease and the feasibility of eventual eradication of Bunchy Top disease from Australia.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the voluntary financial support of the banana industry.
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