Research to boost biosecurity measures

Murdoch University is leading the charge to develop a powerful tool to manage key biosecurity threats to Western Australian (WA) grain produce.

Researcher Xin (Bob) Du aims to demonstrate how a non-chemical pest control can treat stored grain – a challenge which is becoming increasingly important, as pests develop resistance to traditional chemical treatment.

The quest for a new pest control has added urgency because the current fumigant, Phosphine, has been listed as a Security Sensitive Chemical which needs priority risk assessment in the current climate of heightened terrorist activity.

Mr Du, from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, received a prestigious scholarship from the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, which aims to boost biosecurity measures and secure Australia’s grain production.

Mr Du’s research aims to understand how the food grade Synthetic Amorphous Silica (SAS) works to kill the two major insects found in WA stored grain: Red flour beetle and lesser grain borer.

“There have been no previous studies to date that have developed a mode of action for SAS to kill these resistant strains of grain insects,” Mr Du said.

“My research aims to lead to the development of highly efficient and cost effective SAS products and associated application methods to provide a powerful tool to manage these key biosecurity threats.

“This will significantly enhance post-harvest grain management and help to maintain the State’s international reputation and market access, to the benefit of the WA grains industry and the economy.”

Mr Du is undertaking his research at Murdoch University’s Post-harvest Biosecurity and Food Safety Laboratory, which is a key partner in WA efforts to remain at the forefront of international research and maintain competitive grain harvests.

Source: Murdoch University

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