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Development of a new diagnostic tool using DNA barcoding to identify quarantine organisms in support of plant health (QBOL)
Start date: 21 Mar 2009, End date: 20 Sep 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Development of accurate identification tools for plant pathogens and pests is vital to support European Plant Health Policies. For this project Council Directive 2000/29/EC is important, listing some 275 organisms for which protective measures against introduction into and their spread within the Community needs to be taken. Those threats are now greater than ever because of the increases in the volumes, commodity types and origins of trade, the introduction of new crops, the continued expansion of the EU and the impact of climate change. Currently identifying pathogens (in particular new emerging diseases) requires a staff with specialised skills in all disciplines (mycology, bacteriology, etc.); which is only possible within big centralised laboratory facilities. Taxonomy, phytopathology and other fields which are vital for sustaining sound public policy on phytosanitary issues are threatened with extinction. Modern molecular identification/detection techniques may tackle the decline in skills since they often require much less specialist skills to perform, are more amenable for routine purposes and can be used for a whole range of different target organisms. Recently DNA barcoding has arisen as a robust and standardised approach to species identification. QBOL wants now to make DNA barcoding available for plant health diagnostics and to focus on strengthening the link between traditional and molecular taxonomy as a sustainable diagnostic resource. Within QBOL collections harbouring plantpathogenic Q-organisms will be made available. Informative genes from selected species on the EU Directive and EPPO lists will be DNA barcoded from vouchered specimens. The sequences, together with taxonomic features, will be included in a new internet-based database system. A validation procedure on developed protocols and the database will be undertaken across worldwide partners to ensure robustness of procedures for use in a distributed network of laboratories across Europe
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