Laboratory Residentials 2014-15

Laboratory Residential program

Laboratory Residentials are an initiative of the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network. The concept builds upon the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources scholarship program, which sought specifically to develop diagnostic protocols for High Priority Pests. Laboratory Residentials provide scope for plant diagnosticians to develop expertise and knowledge, and may include improvements in their skill bases in areas such as laboratory practices and quality management, diagnostic techniques, and specialist disciplines. Laboratory Residentials are made possible due to funding from the Department, through the Plant Biosecurity and Response Reform program for the purpose of implementing aspects of the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Strategy. If you have any questions regarding the Residential program please contact the NPBDN Executive Officer at or (02) 6272 4568.


The Subcommittee on Plant Health Diagnostics (SPHD) is pleased to announce the following Residentials for 2014-15.

Name Description of residential
Aaron Maxwell Dr Maxwell will work with Dr Monique Sakalidis at the University of British Columbia on the Tree Aggressors Identification using Genomic Approaches project. This aims to improve plant disease diagnostics and pathogen detection and monitoring by developing and translating genomics resources into applications. The residential will include learning elements of a Genomics approach to develop diagnostic tools for pathogen detection; including pcr/real-time pcr/chip-based technologies. Pathogens considered are across: Pucciniales, Oomycota (Phytophthora) and Ascomycota (Mycosphaerella). The lab residential will enable the input of an Australian collaboration with the potential to see the development of an array technology that may therefore also target potential Australian industry end users.There is more detail on
Karren Cowan The long-term preservation of cultures of plant pathogenic microorganisms is essential for accurate identification utilising modern techniques. The Plant Pathology Herbarium (DAR) in Orange NSW and the Queensland Plant Pathology Herbarium (BRIP) in Dutton Park QLD are the two largest plant pathogen collections in Australia, and both contain substantial numbers of living cultures including exotic reference isolates. These isolates must be carefully managed to ensure their continual survival, Ms Tan and I currently manage the culture collections at our individual laboratories. Our aim of this residential is to learn skills and preservation techniques from each other and further broaden our expertise in culture collection management. An added benefit will be to strengthen our relationships between the two laboratories.
Yu Pei Tan The two largest plant pathology culture collections in Australia are held at the Queensland Plant Pathology Herbarium (BRIP) and the New South Wales Plant Pathology Herbarium (DAR). Both culture collections contain living reference isolates of most of the plant pathogenic fungi and bacteria in Australia. These isolates are essential resources for plant pathologists and biosecurity personnel. The collections are managed independently by Yu Pei (BRIP) and Karren (DAR), who preserve and supply cultures. The aim of this Residential Proposal is to allow Yu Pei and Karren to exchange skills in preservation techniques and other collection management practices.
Jane Ray Australian Government Department of Agriculture plant pathologist, Jane Ray, will travel to Indonesia to learn about several rice viruses that are exotic to Australia. In particular she is interested in learning about the detection and diagnosis of Rice Grassy Stunt Virus (RGSV) using a molecular technique called a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assay.  Rice Grassy Stunt Virus is listed as a high priority pest on the Rice Biosecurity Plan and as a targeted plant disease for the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS).  She will work with scientists at the Department of Plant Protection, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.
Sally Cowan Visit the NSW Orange Agricultural Institute to further diagnostic skills in the identification of whitefly pest species, with specific emphasis on fauna of the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area.
Rosalie Daniel During my SPHDS residency I will spend a week at the Queensland Plant Pathology Herbarium (QPPH). There I will gain experience in identifying a broader range of plant pathogens than those that are frequently seen in diagnostic laboratories supported by local mycological expertise and access to herbarium specimens.  The expansion and diversification of horticultural industries brings with it the challenges of diagnosing and identifying less common pathogens or pathogens in new hosts. The new skills I learn will support my current research into the management of diseases affecting horticultural crops, as well as contributing to the diagnosis of diseased plant samples that pass through the Plant Health Diagnostic Service at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI).
Cameron Brumley Working alongside world renowned Aphididae expert Dr Robert Foottit at the Canadian National Collection in Ottawa, Canada.  The CNC boasts an immense amount of aphid specimens from around the world. Part of Dr Foottit’s extensive research has centred on the presence and impacts of invasive- something that closely mirrors the situation in Australia where almost the entire aphid fauna is introduced. This lab placement represents an enormous opportunity to expand my working knowledge of exotic species, aphid taxonomy and curation methods.
Alison Dann In 2014 there was a detection of Little cherry virus-2 (LChV-2) in Tasmania, and a first report for Australia. The sequencing of a small section of the genome revealed phylogenetic differences between isolates; hence the main focus of this residential is to determine the diversity of LChV-2 isolates and to sequence 1 to 2 genomes as little is known of the genetics of this virus. Furthermore, a diagnostic protocol draft is essential for states and industry to have a consistent test for eradication and/or testing of rootstock. In addition, quality laboratory management ideas and systems will be imparted for future DPIPWE molecular laboratory accreditation.
Brian Thistleton This laboratory residential will fund Dr Brian Thistleton (Principal Entomologist, NTDPIF) and Dr Mary Finlay-Doney (Research Entomologist, NTDPIF) to visit the Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit, Orange Agricultural Institute (OAI). Brian had previously been trained in advanced termite diagnostics by Bob Eldridge using the collection at the NSW Forest Science Centre, West Pennant Hills. This collection has subsequently been moved to OAI where Brian will use it to provide diagnostic training to Mary and to Peter Gillespie (Insect Collection Manager, OAI). The training will enhance the diagnostic skills of all three participants and lead to the preparation of diagnostic protocols for key exotic termites.

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