PaDIL Future Directions workshop enhances the future of Australia’s diagnostic capabilities

December 14, 2023

Plant Health Australia (PHA) hosted a virtual Pest and Disease Image Library (PaDIL) Future Directions workshop in November, where the future direction for the online database was mapped out. Attendees included members of the PaDIL Steering Committee, PHA staff, and invited guests representing end-users and content contributors.

The workshop was facilitated by PHA’s General Manager, Partnerships and Innovation, and the PaDIL Steering Committee Chair, Dr Lucy Tran-Nguyen. The workshop focussed on three main discussion sessions about the vision, path to success and prioritisation for the system, respectively. This supports effective prioritisation of planned activities that aim to improve the current system’s ability to meet the needs of end users such as diagnosticians, as well as to further integrate with national systems and resources.

To set the scene for discussions, PHA’s Digital Systems Manager Dr Matt Hill, Digital Systems Project Officers, Evie Kielnhofer and Jimmy Lu, provided background information on system functions and features, and system metrics to reflect the current state of PaDIL. Evie also presented findings of PHA’s recent engagement with national reference collection managers (of plant pathology and invertebrate collections) on their capacity to perform high-resolution imaging of specimens to contribute to PaDIL.

Dr Rachel Mann, PHA’s Diagnostics Manager, presented on potential system linkages to other current and maintained diagnostic information and resources including the potential to link to National Diagnostic Protocols (NDPs) and National Surveillance Protocols (NSPs) for National Priority Plant Pests (NPPPs), Exotic Environmental Pests (EEPs) and High Priority Plant Pests (HPPs).

The workshop captured the enthusiastic and informed insights of attendees and their vision for PaDIL over the next five years. The outcomes will help identify priorities for PaDIL and allow PHA to coordinate activities to help deliver a successful system to benefit Australian plant biosecurity.

PaDIL is an online resource which offers high-quality diagnostic images and information tools designed to assist agronomists, biosecurity officers, diagnosticians, and researchers both in Australia and overseas. PaDIL is endorsed by the National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) as a nationally significant infrastructure for Australia’s diagnostic capability which is supported by a cost-shared arrangement for the next five years.

During 2022, with funding support from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), PaDIL was rebuilt with an improved search functionality, a new diagnostic image comparison tool and increased representation of priority pest species.