Introduction to the EPPO conference on diagnostics and associated workshops

York, GB, 2009-05-10/15


  • F. Petter,

  • M. McMullen

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EPPO organized a Conference on Diagnostics in cooperation with the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) (GB). This Conference followed in the sequence of EPPO Conferences on new methods of diagnosis in plant protection, previously held in the Netherlands, in 1985, 1994, 2000 and 2004. This Conference was attended by more than 140 participants from 29 countries (including non-EPPO countries: USA, Uganda, Peru and New Zealand). Most participants were experts in the field of diagnosis of plant pests, but representatives of EU organizations and private companies were also present.

The Conference was opened by Dr Jeff Waage, Director of the London International Development Centre of the University of London. His talk ‘Putting plant health surveillance in a broader context’, showed that while differences exist between the human, animal and plant disease prevention systems there are increasing similarities in approaches to diagnostics across the sectors thus synergies should be encouraged. The Participants were welcomed to Fera by Mr Wray (Director of Operations).

The following sessions were organized

  • • A general session covering various topics related to diagnostics in particular of viruses and bacteria
  • • A session on DNA barcoding and sequence based detection. The use of these techniques for diagnostics was presented as well as the recently launched European project, QBOL, which aims to develop new diagnostic tools to identify quarantine pests
  • • A session on novel detection methods including sound detectors, satellite imagery on-site diagnostic tools (lateral flow devices)
  • • A session on array based systems and new molecular methods where recent developments on genomic chips were presented
  • • A session on quality systems for phytosanitary diagnostics where accreditation process and validation of tests were discussed. The Director of accreditation of the United Kingdom Accreditation body attended this session and insisted that establishing a regular dialogue between accreditation bodies and laboratories is essential.

Associated workshops

Three workshops were organized in addition to the conference.

  • • A Workshop on Whole Genome Amplification (WGA). After presentations on the WGA, participants could analyze their own genomic DNA samples
  • • A Workshop on the implementation of the EPPO Standard PM 3/64 ‘Intentional import of organisms that are plant pests or potential plant pests’ and the EU directive 2008/61
    Mr Verduin from the European BioSafety Association explained that harmonized of containment conditions were important for research laboratories working in different disciplines such as genetically modified organisms, biological agents and quarantine pests. In addition containment conditions should be risk based. Ms Petter presented the EPPO standard.
    Mr Bishop (United Kingdom) and Ms Muller (Germany) presented how the EU directive 2008/61 was implemented in their countries and how they used the guidance provided by PM 3/64 in this context. Posters were also presented by different participants. From the discussions that followed the presentations it could be concluded that the EPPO standard gives valuable guidance and that there was no need for an in-depth revision
  • • A practical Workshop on Quality Assurance for plant pest diagnostic laboratories followed on 2009-05-14/15 and consisted of practical sessions on Method validation and organization of proficiency testing, Metrology and Practical design and implementation of a quality management system.


The EPPO Secretariat would like to thank Ms Steel, Ms Hill, Mr Mumford and Mr Boohnam for the excellent organization of the Conference and a most friendly welcome in York, and also to the trainers for the theoretical sessions of the Quality Assurance Workshop Ms Antoine, Messrs Galsworthy, Hughes, Ingelbrecht and van Vaerenbergh.