Australia Tests Psyllid Monitoring System

Josh McGillInternational, Psyllids

A new airborne insect monitoring system that has been tested in a field trial at Midura, Australia, should assist in monitoring for African and Asian citrus psyllids, which transmit HLB.

monitoring system
Wind trap (Photo by Francesco Martoni, Agriculture Victoria)

The trial was conducted by Agriculture Victoria in conjunction with Citrus Australia and had two main purposes. One purpose was to test the sampling ability of the monitoring system against more traditional monitoring methods such as pan traps and passive wind traps. The second purpose was to survey the local psyllid population and test the ability of the monitoring system and Agriculture Victoria’s new metabarcoding process to detect exotic psyllids.

No exotic pests of citrus were detected, but the trial did record an exotic non-pest psyllid species. Information collected during the trial will be used as a starting point for a project that will explore psyllid diversity in Australia. That project will also investigate the potential of certain psyllids to transmit the pathogens that cause HLB. Citrus Australia and Agriculture Victoria are poised to launch the project.

The monitoring system is a sentinel surveillance unit that incorporates a weather monitoring station, onboard telemetry and suction traps targeting both airborne pests and fungal diseases. The sentinel unit can be monitored remotely and requires fewer man hours to operate than many traditional monitoring systems.

The insect samples collected are sent to a laboratory for analysis by an entomologist. In an effort to streamline the diagnostics step, Agriculture Victoria is using a DNA metabarcoding process to look for target pests across all plant industries, including citrus. The metabarcoding process is used in addition to traditional morphological analyses. Once refined, this metabarcoding process is likely to significantly improve the ability of Australian biosecurity monitoring programs to detect exotic pests and diseases.  

Source: Citrus Australia