24th Australasian Plant Pathology Society (APPS) Conference and Xylella workshop

December 14, 2023

The Australasian Plant Pathology Society (APPS) Conference, was held 20 – 24 November in Adelaide, South Australia. Plant Health Australia (PHA) was proud to once again partner with the Biennial premier event for the Australasian pathology community. Themed ‘Change and Adaptation’, the conference considered both climate change and the loss of agrichemicals for pest and pathogen management as a result of public health and environmental concerns or the build-up of resistance. In addition to the presidential address on pioneering discoveries in plant virology from Australia, there were keynote addresses each day, as well as the annual Daniel McAlpine memorial lecture delivered by an eminent scientist in recognition of their significant contribution to Australasian Plant Pathology.

Four concurrent sessions ran each day of the conference covering themes including new technologies, host resistance breeding, diagnostics, biosecurity, integrated disease management, biological control, molecular plant disease interactions, microbiomes and disease complex, chemical resistance, modelling and risk analysis, engagement and extension, new diseases and climate change.

Pre-conference workshops were also held on Monday 20 November 2023 at the University of Adelaide’s (UA) Waite Campus, covering nematology, grapevine virology, and new approaches for surveillance and monitoring of plant pathogens.

Several PHA staff attended the conference and Dr Matt Hill, PHA’s Digital Systems Manager, presented the role integrated digital biosecurity systems plays in advancing plant health diagnostics, while Dr Harsh Garg, Project Officer, presented recent updates to National Diagnostics and Surveillance Protocols and the endorsement process.

Dr Bianca Rodrigues Jardim, National Networks and Events Coordinator, introduced the Plant Surveillance Network Australasia-Pacific (PSNAP) and National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network (NPBDN) and the role these programs play in enhancing plant biosecurity surveillance and diagnostics capacity and capability.

Dr Cheryl Grgurinovic, Manager: Diagnostics, presented the national coordination of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data for a coordinated diagnostics system, later chairing a session at the conference.

Several PHA staff also attended the NPBDN funded post-conference Xylella workshop held on Friday 24 November 2023 at UA with PHA’s Manager, Surveillance Dr Rachel Mann, presenting at the workshop. NPBDN’s support included covering travel and accommodation to attend the workshop for 10 NPBDN members from across Australia and from New Zealand.

The APPS conference provides a valuable opportunity for researchers, government officials and PHA officers to network, exchange knowledge, and address critical issues facing the agriculture and environment sector.