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EPPO conference and visits to CSIRO Montpellier and Central Science Laboratories York

My first stop was to the CSIRO Laboratory in Montpellier where I met with Mic Julien and went on a tour of the facilities. I met with other staff and discussed their research, in particular the work on Trissolcus basalis and since returning I have identified collections in Australia the largest is at the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC). Head of ANIC, Dr John La Salle, is considering the possibility of extracting DNA from some of this material. It is possible that the CRCNPB may undertake a small pilot study to determine whether this material is useful. I also met with researchers at CIRAD - the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development - and INRA, France's institute for agronomic research.


There is considerable interest in France in regards to Bemisia tabaci (silverleaf whitefly). There may be opportunities to develop some joint research on this pest and perhaps Tomato Yellow Leave Curl Virus (TYLCV). I am considering an upcoming EU Framework option around Bemisia which I am discussing with Richard Baker of CSL; this may have a role for the Montpellier group.


At the Central Science Laboratory York I had meetings with staff regarding the CRCNPB's research. These meetings helped clarify the UK approach to pest risk analysis and the overall EU approach to prioritisation. I met with Paul Bartlett and discussed the pending USA WTO challenge of EU phytosantiatry requirements in regards to Bemisia tabaci. I met with Claire Sansford and discussed the UK approach to PRAs and prioritisation. Of particular note here is the role of interception data and the formal processes for its collection which stands as a complete contrast to the informal user pays process that underpins the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service approach. I had further discussions on PRAs with Alan McLeod. I talked to Chris Malumphy about the UK approach to evidence integrity control as part of the interception data collection.


At the EPPO conference there were a lot of presentations that had a biosecurity focus. One of the most active groups appears to be one involving Wopke van der Werf who will be visiting the Brisbane CSIRO labs in 2007. Wopke has a number of students, one will be finishing his PhD in late 2007 and will be an ideal CSIRO Postdoctoral candidate. He is an excellent student with several quality publications either published or submitted and is keen to come to Australia. I also met on several occasions with Richard Baker from CSL. He was particularly interested in Climex modelling for Bemisia tabaci. At the time I was using the newly available Ozclim climate change module as together with Bob Sutherst, I am writing a paper using Bemisia tabaci as a model species to look at future climate change scenarios in Australia. The aim is to link current patterns of establishment with impact and then overlay the climate change scenarios. Richard is keen to see this expanded to include Europe. I am therefore wondering whether, as part of an upcoming EU Framework call, we could include the development of a similar module for Europe.


The three visits identified a series of opportunities for both the CRCNPB and the CSIRO Entomology Division. It seems a good chance to use Bemisia tabaci, one of the world's most invasive emergency plant pests, to look at the role of climate in regards to establishment and impact.


* EPPO is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for European cooperation in plant health. Founded in 1951 by 15 European countries, EPPO now has 48 members, covering almost all countries of the European and Mediterranean region. Its objectives are to protect plants, to develop international strategies against the introduction and spread of dangerous pests and to promote safe and effective control methods.


When: 2006 - October
Location: Montipellier

Paul De Barro, Program Leader Preparedness and Prevention, travelled to the UK, France and the Netherlands in October 2006. He attended the EPPO* Conference on Computer Aids for Plant Protection in Wageningen in the Netherlands and visited the CSIRO Laboratory in Montpellier, France and the UK Central Science Laboratories in York.