The future of plant health in Australia is looking brighter, with a new international research collaboration on pests and diseases that are common global threats announced last week.

Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Phytosanitary Research and Coordination network (Euphresco), which funds research projects and coordinates research in plant health areas in Europe.

PBRI coordinates and supports plant biosecurity research in Australia through a partnership between Australia’s plant Research and Development Corporations, Plant Health Australia and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

PBRI Chairman Greg Fraser said Plant Health Australia has been developing a relationship with Euphresco since 2017, including collaborating in the International Plant Sentinel Network.

“Collaboration is essential as a lot of the pests that we deal with are global pests, so we need to be operating in a global environment,” Mr Fraser said.

Program Director Dr Jo Luck, who is also on the Vinehealth Australia Board, said the signing of the MOU with Euphresco encouraged knowledge sharing between countries on common threats to agriculture and native environments and would create efficiencies in research investment.

“The benefit of working with Euphresco is building stronger research efforts to benefit industry,” Dr Luck said. “This includes the Australian wine industry which is facing many global biosecurity threats including Xylella fastidiosa. We can learn plenty from our international research peers.”

Euphresco Coordinator Baldissera Giovani said he is looking forward to more fruitful discussions and to building stronger links with the Australian research community and plant health stakeholders.

“Collaborations have now been secured between organisations in 35 countries worldwide and fourteen research projects will start in coming months,” Mr Giovani said.

The MOU between the PBRI and Euphresco has been signed as part of the International Year of Plant Health in 2020, promoting greater collaboration for international efforts in plant health.

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