Small Farms

New test for viruses in horticultural seed

Seed testing protocols established and verified by Plant Biosecurity CRC researchers are being proposed as the new international standard for the detection of viruses and viroids in seed, including Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV).

CGMMV affects cucurbit species, such as cucumber, melons, watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin and squash, resulting in substantial crop losses.

It was first detected in Australia on watermelon farms in the Northern Territory in September 2014 and has now been detected on commercial cucurbit properties in Kununurra, Carnarvon, Geraldton and Perth.

“Contaminated seed can be a pathway for diseases and poses a significant biosecurity risk for Australian agriculture,” said project team leader Dr Fiona Constable from Agriculture Victoria.

“We have been specifically looking at improved and validated testing for detecting viroids and viruses in solanaceous (tomato and capsicum) and cucurbit (melon, pumpkin, squash, and cucumber) seeds.

“CGMMV is frequently spread through contaminated seed so the improved new test could really help Australian producers deal with the virus.

“The new molecular seed testing protocol will be sensitive, reliable and cost-effective, with the potential to be used by diagnostic testing facilities worldwide.

“It will meet the stringent requirements of sensitivity required by Australian quarantine at the border, while minimising the cost to industry.”

Australia imports most of its tomato, capsicum and cucurbit seed and, with over 230 seed-borne viruses and viroids that have the potential to be a biosecurity risk, research to minimise this risk is vitally important.

The research was based at AgriBio, the Centre for AgriBioscience, a joint venture between Agriculture Victoria and La Trobe University.

Source: PBCRC

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