Live plants and perishable material are imported into Australia in the form of nursery stock, fresh produce and passenger personal effects. As part of mandatory conditions of import, these goods are inspected by Biosecurity Officers in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, assessed for their biosecurity risk and treated accordingly if the risk exceeds an appropriate level for the intended end use. Where an unacceptable biosecurity risk is detected, mitigation options include export, destruction, fumigation or immersion in hot water. Nematode infested live plants destined for propagation pose a higher risk than fresh produce destined for human consumption.
In recent years live nematodes have been detected by the Department in a range of imported goods at the border in the Sydney region. These have included both plant parasitic and non-parasitic nematodes and once sampled from the goods, are submitted to Operational Science plant pathologists for morphological identification. The plant parasitic nematodes detected include Aphelenchoides sp. and Xiphinema sp. Non-parasitic nematodes have included Rhabditis sp., Mesorhabditis sp., Labronemella sp., Sinurea sp. and a number of other fungal and bacterial feeders and predatory nematodes which were not specifically determined.
Aphelenchoides sp. have been detected on live plants including orchids, Yucca sp. and Nepenthes sp. Fresh produce detections have included Aphelenchoides sp. and Xiphinema sp. on root vegetables. As expected, the non-parasitic nematodes were found on a wide range of plants and in soil on plant roots. Interestingly, Labronemella sp. was most commonly detected on taro corms. This nematode is a dorylaimid and has a stylet but feeds as an omnivore.