Friday, 9 August, 2013 - 07:45

 

Helicoverpa armigera (corn-ear worm)
Fig. 1. Helicoverpa armigera (corn-ear worm), an internationally
distributed major pest, is one of the model insects used for this
research.

“Has it just arrived or not?” and “Where is it from?” are questions biosecurity officials often ask when an exotic insect invader is discovered in New Zealand. A B3 research project investigating natural abundance stable isotopes and trace elements as geolocality markers is helping the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to deal with this uncertainty for more timely, appropriate and cost-effective biosecurity operational decisions.

A key concern for MPI is to know when a new find of a high risk pest in New Zealand represents a fresh incursion, and therefore requires only a localised response. Alternatively, if it is found the pest already has an established population in New Zealand then a much more extensive response is required. To know which of these situations apply would greatly assist with determining when expensive eradication responses are necessary, and when they...

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012 - 11:11

Dr. Tara Strand monitors the aerial spray field trial completed to quantify the interaction between the aircraft wake under different operating conditions (combinations of helicopter type, release height, and flying speed) and the pergola canopy.  This work was also done to assist Zespri® with their battle against Psa.

Aerial pesticide application is often used in pest eradication programmes, particularly when the pest is widespread or located in the tops of tree canopies. Spray treatments are most effective when there is good spray coverage throughout the canopy. 

A research programme based at Scion and supported by Better Border Biosecurity (B3) has focused on several ways of improving the effectiveness of aerial spraying while minimising the associated risks.

First, the development of spray deposition models that are applied to a wide range of aerial spray application scenarios are helping scientists to understand how spray deposition and coverage varies with different application techniques...

Thursday, 8 November, 2012 - 11:01

It is estimated that 30-40% of the plant species grown in botanic gardens around the world are exotic species that originate from a different country or even landmass. This distribution of plants outside their native range presents a significant opportunity to understand and predict which exotic insect or pathogen species that are not yet present in a country could become invasive there in the future.

An initiative known as the International Plant Sentinel Network seeks to capitalise on this potential in order to leverage various governments’ investments into 2,500 botanic gardens and arboreta in jurisdictions throughout the world in order to assist border biosecurity. B3 is now contributing to and championing the initiative in New Zealand, along with a significant contribution from Scion and recently Canterbury University via a summer student fellowship.

The International Plant Sentinel Network works by liaising with collaborators such as staff of botanic gardens and arboreta to assist with tasks such as regularly monitoring plant health, taking photographs of pests and diseases...

Tuesday, 30 October, 2012 - 16:25

In August, a group of B3 researchers travelled to Daegu, South Korea to present papers on their research at the 24th International Congress of Entomology. The conference is held every four years and this year’s theme was “A New Era of Entomology”. Over 2,300 researchers from around the world attended the event.

 Dr Barbara Barratt from AgResearch presented an invited keynote presentation on whether knowledge of a parasitoid’s natural host range always helps predict the species’ host range in new areas of introduction.

She reported on a retrospective study that compared the natural host range of Microctonus aethiopoides in Morocco with its novel host range found in Australia and New Zealand, where it has been introduced to control the adult stage of the weevil Sitona discoideus, a pest of lucerne in the family Leptopiini. The study found that the absence of Leptopiini in Morocco and the record of a native Australian leptopiine host could have indicated that native weevils in this tribe in...

Thursday, 18 October, 2012 - 14:32

Surveillance for the early detection of invasive species is costly and imperfect. Every year, thousands of pheromone-baited traps are deployed to detect high-impact pests such as gypsy moths and fruit flies, and all of these traps must be physically inspected fortnightly.  

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) currently spends around $2 million annually on surveillance trapping to protect our primary industries and natural forests from fruit flies and gypsy moths. Around half the cost of these operations is incurred by inspectors needing to check each trap regularly.

 Significant savings are therefore possible if physical trap inspections could be minimised or even eliminated. In addition, physical trap inspections are not ideal, because there may be a significant delay between when an insect is trapped and when it is detected. During this time, the pest may increase and spread further within the environment. 

To solve these problems, a team of B3 researchers led by Dr Scott Hardwick of AgResearch has been investigating the use of ‘smart trap’ options, which incorporate remote sensor technology into the...

Monday, 13 August, 2012 - 22:22

Forest insects that travel the world via global trade can easily become serious pests outside their native home. To address this issue, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara assembled a group of scientists, economists and policy analysts. Their aim was to assess the costs and benefits of reducing movements of forest insect pests and pathogens by implementing phytosanitary (biosecurity) measures that apply to internationally traded goods.

Dr Eckehard Brockerhoff, principal scientist at Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute) and Theme Leader of the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) Pathway Risk Management Theme, contributed to the group through his knowledge of the relationship between pest arrival rates and establishment rates.

The NCEAS project team estimated the ecological and economic impacts of invasive insect pests and diseases, as well as quantifying the costs and benefits of phytosanitary policy that would reduce the biosecurity risks associated with trade. Brockerhoff says the team aimed to determine whether phytosanitary policies would provide a net benefit in monetary terms.

“We...

Thursday, 26 July, 2012 - 16:36

As one of the three end-user partners of the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) research programme, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), formerly Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), has an important role in helping to shape priorities and ensure that research output is directed towards achieving practical and significant outcomes.

Dr Barney Stephenson, Senior Science Adviser and coordinator of MPI’s input into the B3 Collaboration, says that good progress has been made in appreciating the complex organisational and biological challenges that are involved.  The research partnership has developed a shared understanding of biosecurity, and is well-equipped to provide strategically-based research output that will help MPI address border biosecurity priority areas.

The B3 programme has assembled research expertise and facilities from four research institutes to provide answers to difficult questions.  The Collaboration includes all of the people needed to define the problems, evaluate their importance and then seek practical solutions to prevent pests from establishing in New Zealand.  As a result, the B3 partnership is working on a strategically-directed programme of research that is designed to make a...

Thursday, 28 June, 2012 - 14:39

A team of researchers led by Dr Kerry Everett at Plant and Food Research is using diagnostic markers to quickly detect horticultural diseases in New Zealand, preventing their further spread and enabling New Zealand exporters to maintain market access overseas.

Diagnostic markers are short regions of DNA that are unique to any particular bacterial or fungal pathogen.  Laboratory tests on plant samples determine if this unique region of DNA is present, which indicates whether the pathogen is present on the plant.  

Kerry’s first work on diagnostic markers for horticultural diseases began in 2002 on citrus black spot (Guignardia citricarpa), which an historical record identified in New Zealand in 1983 based on morphological evidence. However, Kerry re-examined the record and confirmed that in fact the record contained a closely related strain that is not damaging but can only be distinguished from citrus black spot using molecular techniques. This finding confirmed that citrus black spot had actually never been found in New Zealand and helped to open market access for New Zealand citrus in Europe and the United States. 

The second disease that Kerry and her team worked on was avocado scab, which is a...

Thursday, 14 June, 2012 - 15:45

Speech by Dr Stephen Goldson, Strategy Advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee and the Director of the Better Border Biosecurity Collaboration to the Transit of Venus Forum Gisborne, 7 June 2012 

Thank you for this opportunity to speak at such an interesting and auspicious occasion.

A central question posed at this Transit Event is how can science and technology contribute critically to New Zealand in achieving clean and efficient industry, social cohesion and economic success?  In response to this I will say a few words about the defence of what New Zealand already is, with specific reference to its unique biodiversity and land-based industries.

This country will inevitably continue to be a trading nation and a tourist destination and with this there will be increasing volumes of freight and people crossing the border.  As a result, New Zealand faces massive and continuous risks of biosecurity failure leading to the invasion and establishment of exotic pests, weeds and diseases.  Damage from these species can occur in all ecosystems and of course, climate change is well able to make everything a whole lot worse.

...

Tuesday, 1 May, 2012 - 15:43

In March, Dr Richard Baker, the coordinator and science leader for a leading European biosecurity research programme known as PRATIQUE (Pest Risk Assessment Techniques), visited New Zealand to discuss the initiative he has been leading and lessons from this work that are applicable to this country.  

Dr Baker led two days of workshops, sponsored by AGMARDT, which provided an opportunity for New Zealand researchers and industry stakeholders to share information regarding updated techniques for risk assessment, access to databases and the establishment of user-friendly decision support systems. While in New Zealand, Dr Baker also visited AgResearch, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Lincoln University to further discussions from the workshops. 

PRATIQUE was established in response to the growing threat to Europe of alien invasive species due to increasing globalisation. Its purpose was to develop more efficient risk analytical techniques for pests and pathogens of significant phytosanitary concern. The now completed project involved scientists from 15 partner institutions, 11 countries in the...

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