Crop Health Services (CHS), a business within Agriculture Victoria, conducts a plant pest and disease diagnostic service involving discipline specialists in bacteriology, entomology, mycology, nematology, plant physiology and virology. Diagnoses support productivity and biosecurity outcomes for Australia’s plant industries and the environment. Pests and pathogens are identified using the appropriate combination of cultural, morphological, biochemical, molecular and immunological techniques. Staff are members of the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostics Network and participate in the National Plant Health Proficiency Testing Program. Nationally endorsed and NATA protocols are used when available.
CHS has an agreement with the Victorian Biosecurity Branch, to report suspect and confirmed exotic plant pests and pathogens and new host records to the Chief Plant Health Officer within 24 hours of detection under the State’s General Surveillance project. Specimens are subsequently accessioned into the State’s reference collections.
In the past 3 years CHS has conducted over 46,000 diagnoses on samples submitted by the public, growers, consultants, and State and Federal biosecurity agencies. In this time over 50 pests and pathogens detected have been new Australian pest records, new State pest records or host range extensions.
The most significant of these are first Australian records of Cherry virus A (CVA) , American plum line pattern virus (APLPV), Apricot vein clearing associated virus (AVCaV) from Prunus spp and Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV; genus Carmovirus) from Rockmelon (Cucumis melo); First Victorian record of blueberry rust Thekopsora minima on Vaccinium and of Pantoea ananatis from Zea mays; First Australian record of the hazelnut mite Tetranycopsis horridus, and first Victorian records of the giant pine scale Marchalina hellenica, cactus spine scale Acanthococcus coccineus, cotton mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis, solanum mealybug Phenacoccus solani, adelgids Adelges nordmannianae “species complex” and Adelges cooleyi “species complex”, leaf beetle Paropsides calypso, and the Russian wheat aphid Diuraphis noxia.