Pest and pathogen diagnosis and surveillance

Pest and pathogen diagnosis is an essential part of the plant health support for the Scottish Government and is the basis of much of the plant health advice given.

Quarantine and other pests and pathogens are diagnosed:

  • in traded plants (imported and exported plants and as required for plant passporting ) and plant products. Organisms for which surveillance is done include  Bemisia tabaci on Poinsettia plants, and Meloidogyne chitwoodii on potatoes and Plum pox virus on Prunus;
  • to meet requirements for surveillance by EC Member States in emergency legislation. Examples include Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd, Commission Decision 2007/410/EC) and Phytophthora ramorum on host plants (2002/757/EC);  Pepino mosaic virus on tomato (2004/200/EC); Diabrotica virgifera on maize (2003/736/EC);
  • for potato quarantine testing (see the potato quarantine page);
  • for Scottish Government certification schemes (potatoes, soft fruit and bulbs);
  • on potato as required in the relevant control directives. This includes annual surveys for potato brown rot (Ralstonia solanacearum) and potato ring rot (Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus) as required in the EC Brown Rot Control Directive (98/57/EC as amended) and the EC Ring Rot Control Directive (93,85/EEC as amended). Surveys on ware land for potato cyst nematode (Globodera pallida and Globodera rostochiensis, 2007/33/EC) and other testing in Scotland to meet seed potato certification requirements (See the soil testing page for details of the sampling and testing for PCN);
  • wart (Synchytrium endobioticum) susceptibility testing of potato varieties as required in EC Wart Disease Directive (69/464/EEC);
  • as required for maintenance of protected zone status or to support statements on  pest freedom for example Bemisia tabaci surveillance, freedom from rhizomania (Beet necrotic yellow vein virus)

Samples from Scottish Government inspectors are examined for pests and pathogens using microscopic, microbiological, serological, molecular, electron microscopic and bioassay methods. SASA collaborates internationally to introduce and develop new techniques for the diagnosis of quarantine and other harmful organisms and is involved with EC evaluation of existing and new methods (see the R&D section).