Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

Q-Detect holds dissemination meeting in Brussels

On 21 January 2013, the Q-Detect consortium held a dissemination meeting in Brussels to present the latest results and technologies developed by the network, including practical demonstrations. Q-Detect is a multi-disciplinary research network that is developing a range of innovative tools to help plant health inspectors protect Europe’s agriculture and forestry sectors from invasive pests and pathogens.

At the meeting, Q-Detect partners discussed topics such as: trapping quarantine pests, modelling inspection processes and remote sensing for detecting pests. The meeting also heard about recent advances in DNA-based pest detection methods including recent innovative approaches to diagnosing tree diseases.

A new DNA-based weapon to combat ash tree disease

Recently, partners in the Q-Detect project demonstrated how a rapid and portable method they developed for diagnosing pests and pathogens can be applied to detecting ash-dieback in the field. The ash tree disease Chalara fraxinea is a wind-borne fungal infection that has been spreading westwards across Europe over recent decades – leading to ash trees dying in very large numbers.

The partners took a military technology for detecting battlefield biological agents and adapted it for the field identification of plant pathogens. They have now applied this technique successfully to the ash-dieback fungus. Whereas traditional laboratory analyses can take some days to complete, Q-Detect’s DNA-based technique uses a portable 2kg field instrument which gives a diagnosis within 30 minutes – enabling the rapid implementation of fast and decisive management plans for disease containment.

About Q-Detect

Led by the Food and Environment Research Agency in the UK, the Q-Detect network involves a consortium of 15 partners, including national research organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from across Europe, Peru and China. The consortium is developing tools to be used by National Plant Protection Organisations and Inspection services to detect quarantine pests and pathogens in ports, airports, fields, forests etc. A number of innovative tools are already on the market.

While the focus is quarantine organisms, these technologies can be applied to other plant pests, pathogens and invasive species.

This work is supporting a number of the policy areas followed by the Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO).

More information

The Q-Detect website

BBC clip on Q-Detect technology