The importance of PaDIL for diagnostics

September 19, 2023

PHA Project Officer, Evie Kielnhofer, recently met with Pia Scanlon (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA (DPIRD)) and Dr Ken Walker (Museums Victoria) – both of whom are respected, longstanding contributors and supporters of the Pest and Disease Image Library (PaDIL).

A scientific identification tool, PaDIL is an online database containing high-quality diagnostic images and information tools designed to assist agronomists, biosecurity officers, diagnosticians and researchers both in Australia and overseas.

Pia has extensive imaging and photographic experience supported by her expertise in entomology. In consultation with her taxonomist colleagues at DPIRD, Pia has made significant image contributions to PaDIL over the course of over 17 years. She provided technical insight into her imaging setup and identified broader trends in the specialised field of imaging biological specimens. She also expressed how improvements in photographic equipment can directly translate into enhanced resolution of images contributed to PaDIL, supporting its mission to provide high quality diagnostic images for biodiversity and biosecurity. She emphasised the importance of access to data and information to safeguard Australia’s industries and environment to triage and diagnose exotic pests and diseases.

Dr Ken Walker is a Senior Curator of Entomology who has worked at Museums Victoria since 1981, with a passion for combining taxonomy with technology to increase accessibility of accurate diagnostic information for biosecurity specialists. He has been a strong national advocate for using emerging technologies to build connections between entomologists, insect collections and researchers, diagnosticians, crop scouts, and the public. Ken generously provided an engaging, behind the scenes tour of Museum Victoria’s wet and dry invertebrate specimen collections held at the Museum, including dry, pinned specimens that have been imaged and contributed personally by Ken to PaDIL. Also on display was Museum Victoria’s newly acquired Triceratops horridus dinosaur skeleton forming part of its continuing commitment to producing engaging scientific exhibits.

Ken’s passion for natural science collections is to be commended, as is his many years of service to supporting the sharing of collection data and shaping the evolution of PaDIL. Ken reflected on his involvement in creating the first iteration of PaDIL – an HTML website with less than 30 species, back in 1997, and how the system has evolved to its present-day modern user interface administered by Plant Health Australia (PHA) with support from Museums Victoria, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia (DPIRD WA).

Evie thanked both Pia and Ken for their ongoing enthusiasm and shared excitement in continuing to work with PHA to ensure PaDIL remains a dynamic and valued diagnostic resource into the future.

Visit PaDIL to experience high-quality diagnostic images and information tools designed to assist agronomists, biosecurity officers, diagnosticians and researchers.