New approaches for the early detection of tree health pests and pathogens

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Natural Resources Institute, FES

Abstract

The UK's forests, woods and trees are under threat from a growing number of pests and diseases. Many of these threats are alien; historically not present in the UK and having been introduced from overseas. Some of these threats may reach the UK naturally i.e. as wind-borne spores from continental Europe; potentially one pathway for introduction of the disease ash die-back. The alternative and probably more common pathway of introduction is via human activity, especially trade; for example moving infected plants (another pathway identified for ash die-back) or through the shipping of goods associated with infested timber (as was the case with the recent introduction of the Asian long-horn beetle into Kent in packaging crates for stone). These cases clearly demonstrate that we need to do more to improve our nation's biosecurity and protect our plants and trees; both cultivated and in the wider environment.
In order to do this we need better methods for detecting these pests and diseases that allow us to find them earlier and with greater efficiency. By detecting these threats earlier you can minimize the damage they cause, by either preventing an outbreak occurring in the first place or by finding it early and then stopping it from establishing and spreading further. At present we rely on trained inspectors to find these alien pests and pathogens, mainly via visual inspections of imported plants and plant-based products e.g. timber. However, given the volume of inspections required, the finite amount of resource available and the huge practical challenges associated with these inspections, this task is extremely difficult and the efficiency of detection is low.
This project is designed to change that situation by providing better methods for detecting tree pests and pathogens; both moving in trade and in the environment. It will look at new technologies for the detecting changes in infected plants; using either 'sniffer' technology to identify differences in the volatile chemicals given off by diseased and healthy plants or imaging techniques that can detect changes beyond the range of human vision. It will also look at developing and designing novel traps for capturing insects and DNA-based detection approaches that look for air- and water-borne pathogens. This will include better approaches for trapping spores and then applying high-throughput sequencing methods that will allow the identification of not only known pathogens but also new ones too.
However, developing these new technologies is only part of the challenge. It is also necessary to make sure these new methods are fit-for-purpose and that they work in a way that meets the needs of those enforcing tree health regulations (e.g. government), those upon who those regulation impact (e.g. woodland owners and industry) and the end-users who would be expected to use these new tools (e.g. inspectors in the field). We will also examine what type of end-users could be involved; this could be trained government inspectors (the traditional approach) or alternatives such as those working in the industry, volunteers or even the general public. So looking to see if a so-called 'citizen science' approach could be used for any of these new approaches.
It is also important to ensure that these new approaches can be deployed effectively, for example at locations that pose the greatest risk, and in a way that offers the best cost-benefit (i.e. the best balance between cost of using the technology and the improvements it can offer in terms of better pest and disease detection). In order to do this, we will take an interdisciplinary approach; getting experts from many different fields e.g. biology, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, physics, economics and social science, to work together to come up with the best overall solution that works technically, economically and socially.

Technical Summary

This project has 6 work packages (WP), each based around a different combination of skills and expertise. For WP2-6 there will be a focus on a particular detection technology, while WP1 will provide the technical oversight needed for effective deployment of these different technologies, as summarised:
WP1:a participatory interdisciplinary approach will be used to evaluate the needs of stakeholders and to ensure that the technologies meet these. It will also focus on the requirements of effective technology deployment, using mathematical modeling to develop sampling strategies, to create network-based risk maps and economic assessments of cost-effectiveness. Further aspects of deployment will be analysed using social science approaches including end-user acceptability and the potential for using citizen science.
WP2:analytical chemistry approaches will be used to identify diagnostic volatile organic compounds produced by pests, pathogens and diseased hosts and to translate these onto commercial-available portable platforms for use by inspectors in the field.
WP3:multispectral imaging will be used to identify markers for the early detection of biotic/abiotic stress in plants. A prototype bioimaging camera will be constructed that can be used to validate this approach in the field.
WP4:will develop mathematical models of spore movement and investigate metagenomics for broad-spectrum surveillance utilizing existing monitoring networks e.g. pollen traps. In addition, a novel integrated cyclone-based trapping and molecular detection system will be developed and evaluated.
WP5:novel semiochemical attractants will be identified for a range of wood-boring beetle pests, incorporated into traps designed for efficient detection and then deployed in a risk-based network.
WP6:methods for sampling and rapid screening water for Phytopthora spp., including 'unknowns' will be developed and validated. This will combine high-throughput sequencing with a rapid bioinformatic.

Planned Impact

The interdisciplinary design of this proposal will ensure maximum ongoing impact. Central to this is stakeholder engagement and our proposal has adopted a novel approach to facilitate this. Traditional approaches to developing new detection or diagnostic technologies have assumed the 'build it and they will come' approach; where the focus is on the technical aspects of the novel methodology, rather than the needs of end-users and the specifics of how it will be effectively deployed. This proposal reverses that by taking an inclusive view of what is required to achieve a successful outcome i.e. the deployment of a new technology that improves our biosecurity, and then co-designs technologies which fit that purpose. It achieves this by embracing an interdisciplinary approach and through establishing early engagement with stakeholders and end-users. Critical to this is the creation of a Learning Platform (Work Package 1) which sits at the core of the project and cuts across the other technology-driven work packages (WPs 2-6). This platform will create communication channels, facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing across work packages and stakeholder groups, actively disseminating project outcomes and enabling the pathways to impact. This will be delivered as a series of workshops; both cross-cutting (looking at the broader issues associated with detection and its successful deployment) and more focused (looking at specific issues associated with a particular technology and the contexts for its use). In addition to interacting with stakeholders (e.g. policy-makers, inspectors, NGOs, industry), this approach will use the breadth of expertise established within the consortium and assembled from across a wide-range of disciplines. This brings together 'technology-owners' (natural and physical scientists) with 'technology-evaluators' (mathematical and social sciences) to ensure that the best technological approaches are married with suitable sampling and risk-based deployment strategies, that they have stakeholder acceptability and offer genuine cost-efficiency benefits to public and private stakeholders alike.

In addition to the novel approach built into the project design, the effective delivery of impact will also benefit from a consortium which has an extremely strong track record of delivering translation science, to policy and industry alike. As government science agencies, the major remit for both Fera and Forest Research is to take science and technology and to translate it into policy-focused tools and evidence. This is a role they provide routinely for Defra and Forestry Commission, and their associated inspectors on the frontline in the field (e.g. Fera PHSI and FC Inspectors). In terms of delivery of technologies to end-users including industry, there is also a strong track record across the consortium in a whole range of contexts e.g. Worcester (horticulture industry diagnostics), JHI (potato industry diagnostics), Greenwich (pest trap deployment) and Fera (field diagnostics deployment). The integration of a number of SMEs within the consortium is another pathway to impact; providing a route for new technologies to be made freely available beyond the end of the project. Finally as plant and tree health sits within a European regulatory framework, the ability to engage with international partners and stakeholders is important. The consortium has a wealth of experience and contacts in this area, in particular through its central role in a range of related EU-funded projects e.g. Q-Detect (Fera-led), ISEFOR (Aberdeen-led) and PERMIT (FR-led). It will also build upon existing systems for knowledge exchange within our region, especially through the use of the European Plant Protection Organization (EPPO). By working with EPPO, using activities such as its workshops and conferences, we will be able to reach out to tree health practitioners across Europe; in many cases the real frontline for UK biosecurity.
 
Description An improved pheromone lure for oak processionary moth has been developed which doubled catches in field tests.

In collaboration with the BIPESCO project the trail pheromone of pine processionary moth has been investigated.

In collaboration with FERA, initial investigations were carried out on the aggregation pheromone of citrus longhorn borer and this was recently identified by American researchers.

Assistance was given to APHA staff in maintaining the Asian longhorn borer trap network. The longevity of the various lures was determined.

Traps and lures to catch a wide range of longhorn beetles, including Asian longhorn borer were developed and provided to 12 volunteers as part of a "Citizen Science" trial. No longhorn beetles were caught as timing was based on anticipated flight of ALB and was too late for indigenous longhorn beetles. Valuable experience was gained and this will be repeated earlier in 2016.
Exploitation Route It is hoped to evaluate the new lures for OPM as part of the Forest Research trap network.

Traps for longhorn beetles will be used by volunteers in the coming season.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment

 
Description Traps for longhorn beetles provided to volunteers for evaluation as part of a Citizen Science experiment to improve detection of Asian longhorn beetle and other potential invasive beetles.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description SBRI Challenge: Finding a solution to Hylobius abietis in forest establishment
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 631132 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 07/2019
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Collaborator Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Impact Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017 January 2017, but unsuccessful
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We lead bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock.
Collaborator Contribution Partners in the bid
Impact Bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock. Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation East Malling Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We lead bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock.
Collaborator Contribution Partners in the bid
Impact Bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock. Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation East Malling Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Collaborator Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Impact Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017 January 2017, but unsuccessful
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation French National Institute of Agricultural Research
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We lead bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock.
Collaborator Contribution Partners in the bid
Impact Bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock. Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation Julius Kuhn Institute
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Collaborator Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Impact Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017 January 2017, but unsuccessful
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation Julius Kuhn Institute
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We lead bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock.
Collaborator Contribution Partners in the bid
Impact Bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock. Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We lead bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock.
Collaborator Contribution Partners in the bid
Impact Bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock. Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Collaborator Contribution Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017
Impact Co-authored bid to Horizon 2020 call SFS-10-2017 January 2017, but unsuccessful
Start Year 2016
 
Description Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Containment and Management of Emerging Pests Threatening EU Horticulture in Support of EU Plant Health Policy 
Organisation University of Wageningen
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We lead bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock.
Collaborator Contribution Partners in the bid
Impact Bid to EU SFS-10-2017: Research and approaches for emerging pests and diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock. Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Novel Trapping Systems for Monitoring and Control of Hylobius abietis 
Organisation Forest Research
Department Northern Research Station
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Assisted in preparation of bid to SBRI Challenge, approved January 2019, project 631132
Collaborator Contribution Assisted in preparation of bid to SBRI Challenge, approved January 2019, project 631132
Impact Project started February 2019
Start Year 2018
 
Description Novel Trapping Systems for Monitoring and Control of Hylobius abietis 
Organisation Sentomol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Assisted in preparation of bid to SBRI Challenge, approved January 2019, project 631132
Collaborator Contribution Assisted in preparation of bid to SBRI Challenge, approved January 2019, project 631132
Impact Project started February 2019
Start Year 2018
 
Description Annual Meeting of Entomological Society of America (Portland, USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented on pine sawyer, Monochamus galloprovincialis, vector of pine wilt nematode.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Annual Meeting of International Society of Chemical Ecology, Stockholm, Sweden 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentations on trapping Monochamus beetles and Dioryctria cone pest
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description IOBC Meeting "Pheromones and Other SemioChemicals in Integrated Production", Jerusalem, Israel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gave plenary presentation on chemical ecology of Monochamus species and other lecture on Dioryctria
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Innovation in Plant Biosecurity 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International meeting organised at FERA. I could not attend personally but assisted our representative in preparation of a stand with video and other publicity material relating to our work on use of pheromone trapping for detection of invasive pests.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://fera.co.uk/agriculture-horticulture/biosecurity.cfm
 
Description Learning Platform 3 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Project Learning Platform meeting for Plant Health authroties, commercial companies, other academics and general public. Video shown describing work done in the project and impact.on use of pheromones for detecting invasive pests. Other presentations given and focus group discussions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Learning Platform Workshop 1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Interactive stakeholder workshop attended by over 60 tree health practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description OPM Working Group, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Working group to review Defra projects on oak processionary moth (OPM). Contributed to programme; attended by >50 researchers and tree health practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016