New levy-funded project ‘Improving surveillance strategies for tospoviruses and thrips to enhance the biosecurity of the nursery industry’ (NY19007) is underway – this time a joint venture, with Hort Innovation engaging two separate research teams to provide insights from two completely different environments, temperate Victoria and subtropical Queensland.
Both Agriculture Victoria and The University of Queensland have been offered the opportunity to appoint PhD scholars to assist their respective research teams investigate the risks of tospoviruses and thrips to the nursery industry.
Tospoviruses are some of the most economically damaging plant viruses, reflected in their large host range. They are transmitted by thrips, which are small insects that range from 0.5 – 15mm in length, such as western flower thrips, onion thrips and melon thrips.
There are four species of tospovirus that occur in Australia – tomato spotted wilt virus, capsicum chlorosis virus, iris yellow spot virus and impatiens necrotic spot virus. However, at least five times this number have been successfully excluded from Australia, putting a spotlight on the biosecurity threat they pose, as well as the importance of effective surveillance strategies.
Once thrips acquire the virus, they retain the ability to infect other plants throughout their entire lifespan, so this project seeks to develop an integrated pest and disease management system to mitigate this risk.
Improving surveillance strategies for tospoviruses and thrips will reduce the likelihood of new species entering Australia and prevent locally occurring species from becoming widespread in the nursery industry.