PestBlitz Workshop boosts diagnostic capacity for plant production industries

October 18, 2022

Facilitated by Plant Health Australia’s (PHA’s) Dr Lucy Tran-Nguyen, National Manager, Diagnostics, the first PestBlitz field triage workshop was held from 26-30 September in Adelaide.

This practical workshop was designed to help attendees build skills in sample collection and processing, with diagnostic experts sharing their experience and training both in the field and in the laboratory.

Entomologists, plant pathologists, molecular biologists, diagnosticians, students and agronomists from around Australia attended the workshop, hailing from local and state government, industry bodies, universities and scientific agencies.

The workshop provided an opportunity for laboratory-based diagnosticians to gain experience and training in the field collecting samples for identification in the lab, whilst gaining an appreciation of the inherent complexities of sampling when developing protocols and providing advice on plant pest surveillance.

Another objective of the workshop was to increase the number of specimens submitted to reference collections from biosecurity diagnostic laboratories and enhance inter-laboratory collaboration for preparing and responding to Emergency Plant Pests (EPP’s).

Attendees expanded multi-disciplinary knowledge outside their specialist skills, and early career diagnosticians had the opportunity to network and build relationships with plant biosecurity experts.

PestBlitz by the numbers:

  • Five-day workshop
  • Two full days in the field
  • Seven industry experts
  • Five presenters
  • 21 attendees from around Australia
  • Six sites including nursery, greenhouse, horticulture field crop, tree crop and broadacre
  • Two days lab work and lectures at the University of Adelaide Waite Campus

Presenters included Dr Tran-Nguyen, Naomi Wynn, Learning and Development Officer at PHA, Peter Gillespie, Collections Curator NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSWDPI) Orange, Dr Monica Kehoe, Molecular Plant Pathologist, Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development (DPIRD) WA, and Barbara Hall, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Several diagnostic experts were also on hand throughout the workshop to share their knowledge, including Dr Len Tesoriero, Greg Baker, Cathryn Todd and Dr Kelly Hill from SARDI, and Dr Toni Chapman from NSW DPI.

Keep an eye on PHA’s upcoming events for details on future industry workshops and events.