Safe-guarding seed at the Australian Grains Genebank

Improving and developing new pulse varieties is dependent on seed imported from around the world.

The seed, however, has the potential to carry devastating disease-causing viruses.

This risk is reduced through post-entry quarantine protocols that include antibody tests for viruses of concern.

Agriculture Victoria Research Scientist Dr Solomon Maina is leading post-entry quarantine pulse research at the Australian Grains Genebank (AGG) to develop targeted genome detection tests.

Agriculture Victoria, in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), undertook the research at the Grains Innovation Park in Horsham, the home of the AGG.

Dr Maina said developing targeted genome detection tests to safeguard seed exchanges at the AGG border was the primary focus.

“This is a world-first approach within plant virus diagnostics, and it is the first method that can test seeds for multiple biosecurity threats at once, the tests are highly sensitive and cost-effective,” Dr Maina said.

“The technology helps speed up endemic and exotic crop virus surveillance and the cataloguing of novel beneficial microorganisms for use in breeding programs.

The technology can be used to identify beneficial microorganisms in imported seed, allowing breeders to more efficiently select desired germplasm to incorporate within breeding programs.

“These beneficial microbes have the potential to boost pulse crop productivity through a variety of agronomic impacts, including improved nitrogen fixation rates.

“The diagnostic tests will be included as standard operating procedures in the AGG post entry quarantine facility and used in virus interceptions at the border,” Dr Maina said.

“In order to sustain economic viability of the grains industry in Australia, it is very important to protect the industry from potentially damaging viruses.”

Read more of Dr Maina’s research here:

Source: Agriculture Victoria