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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Advances in Molecular-Based Diagnostics in Meeting Crop Biosecurity and Phytosanitary Issues

Authors
item Schaad, Norman
item Frederick, Reid
item Shaw, Joe - LEXICON GENETICS
item Schneider, William
item Hickson, Robert - JOINT SPEC. OP. UNIV.
item Petrillo, Michael - USDA/APHIS
item Luster, Douglas

Submitted to: Annual Review of Phytopathology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2003
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Citation: SCHAAD, N.W., FREDERICK, R.D., SHAW, J., SCHNEIDER, W.L., HICKSON, R., PETRILLO, M.D., LUSTER, D.G. ADVANCES IN MOLECULAR-BASED DIAGNOSTICS IN MEETING CROP BIOSECURITY AND PHYTOSANITARY ISSUES. ANNUAL REVIEW OF PHYTOPATHOLOGY. 41: . 2003.

Interpretive Summary: Interest in crop biosecurity and phytosanitary issues has increased greatly since 9/11 and the anthrax releases. The strength of the U.S. economy depends in large part upon exports, and crops plays a dominant role in the 40 billion dollar agricultural market. Deliberate release of a regulated crop pathogen could cause a complete halt in exports, including food products resulting from the crop. Because U.S. borders are very porous to the deliberate introduction of crop pathogens, crops and crop products are highly vulnerable. Many plant pathogens produce animal and human toxins and plants may serve as carriers of human pathogens. Because of this, plant pathologists need to include research on protecting crops and food from any deliberate release of a plant pathogen. An important prerequisite to controlling any disease is rapid detection of the pathogen. Fortunately considerable progress has been made in developing new technologies for disease diagnosis. Most notable has been the development of rapid molecular-based diagnostics. By using portable fast cycling real-time instruments and protocols, most diseases can be diagnosed on-site in one day or less. Many bacterial diseases may be diagnosed in one hour or less. Real-time molecular assays are available for many of the most high-risk diseases. Infrastructure needs in plant disease diagnostics are great. Few front line responders are available and many have little experience in diagnosing foreign diseases. However, with the recent establishment of a nation-wide network of diagnostic laboratories, rapid diagnostics and communication is quickly improving.

Technical Abstract: Interest in crop biosecurity and phytosanitary issues has increased greatly since 9/11 and the anthrax releases. Crops play a dominant role in the 40 billion dollar agricultural market and deliberate release of a regulated crop pathogen could halt all exports. Because US borders are porous to accidental or deliberate introductions of crop pathogens, crops are highly vulnerable. Moreover, many plant pathogens produce animal and human toxins and plants may serve as carriers of human pathogens. Because of this, plant pathologists need to think strategically about how to protect crops and the agro-industry from any deliberate release of a plant pathogen. Rapid detection will be the key to combating both accidental and deliberate introductions of plant pathogens. Fortunately considerable progress has been made in the development of rapid molecular-based protocols. By using portable fast cycling real-time fluorescent-based PCR instruments, most diseases can be diagnosed on-site in one day or less. Some bacterial diseases may now be diagnosed in one hour or less. Real-time PCR assays are available for many high-risk pathogens. Infrastructure needs in plant disease diagnostics are many, including front line responders, equipment, and communication. However, with the establishment of a nation-wide network of diagnostic laboratories, rapid diagnostics and communication should improve.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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