28 April, 2017
New seed testing protocols will give industry faster access to imported seed, enhance the biosecurity of Australian horticultural industries and maintain access to internal and export markets.
Contaminated seed poses a significant biosecurity risk for Australian agriculture and is a pathway for seed-borne pathogens that have the potential to destroy crops and markets. A PBCRC project to develop improved seed testing protocols aims to reduce this risk.
The project team, led by Dr Fiona Constable from Victoria’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, is specifically looking at improved and validated testing for detecting viroids and viruses in solanaceous (potato, tomato and capsicum) and cucurbit (melon, pumpkin, squash, and cucumber) seeds. The final product will be a sensitive, reliable and cost effective protocol that has the potential to be used by diagnostic testing facilities worldwide.
Australia imports most of its tomato, capsicum and cucurbit seed, and with over 230 seed-borne viruses and viroids that have the potential to be a biosecurity risk, research to minimise this risk is vitally important. In the case of Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV), which was first detected in Australia in the Northern Territory in 2014, a 40 to 50 per cent loss of production has been reported in other countries, so given melons are worth around $50 million a year to Northern Territory industries, the potential impact is significant. The virus has also recently been found on commercial properties in Western Australia and in Bundaberg, Queensland.