Coordination of HTS data key to biosecurity protection

September 19, 2022

Increasing numbers of travelers and increasing volumes of goods entering Australia place more pressure on Australia’s biosecurity system for faster and accurate identification of plant pests, especially where these may be exotic species, national priority plant pests, industry high priority pests and trade sensitive established pests.

High throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies can increase Australia’s diagnostic capacity, and deliver rapid, more accurate results to support our agribusiness and our environment, and lower biosecurity risks by being prepared.

A workshop, organised by Plant Health Australia (PHA), on 2 September 2022 considered the requirements for a nationally coordinated HTS database.

This database will provide a central, secure and private online location to store, analyse and view aggregated national and jurisdictional plant health genomic data.

The workshop was adjacent to the 2022 Annual Diagnostics & Surveillance Workshop, 30 August to 1 September, at AgriBio at La Trobe University, Melbourne. It represents the first round of consultation for a 12-month project to determine the requirements for a HTS database.

A further workshop will be held, followed by a survey to finalise the brief for a service provider to develop a fully costed scope to deliver and maintain the HTS database. Other outputs of this project will be the creation of a stakeholder group based on workshop attendees, and draft governance arrangements and data standards.

36 participants from PHA, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), state and territory government departments, Timor-Leste, CSIRO, universities, and the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI), attended the workshop.

This project is funded under DAFF’s Biosecurity Innovation Program which supports collaboration between industry and government, investing in identification, development and implementation of innovative technologies and approaches to enhance the capacity of Australia’s national biosecurity system.