26 September 2023

New Centre to weed out biosecurity threats

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The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) has partnered with the University of Canberra (UC) to support Australia’s biosecurity system with the development of a new National eDNA Reference Centre.

Secretary of DAWE, Andrew Metcalfe said the new Centre would provide essential support to the Department’s work in cutting-edge eDNA research.

“This new Centre is a critical component of the Department’s National eDNA Testing Program and our ability to make informed biosecurity decisions at the Australian border, and beyond,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“The National eDNA Testing Program will provide infrastructure, governance and policy to underpin and enable an efficient, functional and sustainable eDNA testing for environmental and biosecurity risk management purposes,” he said.

“While the Program will have the capacity for broad risk management application, our immediate focus is to address risks associated with khapra beetle and high-priority hitchhiker pests generally.”

Mr Metcalfe said eDNA testing was currently being used to detect khapra beetle and brown marmorated stink bug arriving in sea containers and help target biosecurity risk management.

The Secretary said that, over the next four years, many other unwanted pest tests would become operational.

Vice-Chancellor of UC, Paddy Nixon said training and research in partnership with faculty researchers and frontline biosecurity staff was essential to Australia’s future prosperity and ensured technology got into the hands of the end users.

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