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CRC60046: Khapra Beetle - PhD

This project was created as there was a need to develop simple and accurate diagnostics to rapidly distinguish Khapra beetle from its close relatives. The aim of this project was to enhance the capacity to effectively and efficiently identify this species, especially in identifying the highly problematic and particularly difficult larval stages. The development of a broader range of skills and techniques  provided much needed support to existing diagnosticians and taxonomists.

What is the biosecurity problem?

The genus Trogoderma (Grain beetles) contains some of the world's most serious economic pests of wheat and other stored grain products. Even with application of strict quarantine measures, these grain beetles still find their way into new countries. This causes imposition of unfavourable restrictions on exports. It is estimated that the total Australian export revenue at risk by an established Trogoderma granarium (Khapra beetle) infestation is over $1.83 billion annually (mainly attributed to the loss of Pest Freedom status) a scenario that would be detrimental to both the grains industry and the Australian economy.

The outputs of this project were to:

  • train a PhD student in taxonomy and molecular diagnostics
  • conduct a phylogeographic study (a study of geographical distribution of the pest over time) on the three exotic, one introduced and as many as possible of the 52 described native non pest Trogoderma
  • conduct a phylogenetic study (evolutionary relatedness) on Trogoderma species, and closely related beetles in the family Dermestidae
  • develop an accurate Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method for detecting Trogoderma pest species, and
  • investigate the use of protein analysis using mass spectrometry to differentiate selected species.

Who will be the end - users of this research?

Technical Officers and Quarantine inspectors.


Mark Castalanelli
Student CRC60046: Khapra Beetle - PhD

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Professor David Groth, Dr Kylie Munyard (Curtin Univesity), Mr Andras Szito (DAFWA), Dr Glynn Maynard (DAFF) and Dr Andrew Baker (QUT)
Supervising Institution
Curtin University, QUT and DAFWA
December 2007 - December 2010