The Plant Innovation Centre at Post-Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ)

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aThe Plant Innovation Centre at Post-Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ)

The Plant Innovation Centre at Post-Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ), part of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, is a team of dedicated scientists who:

  • focus on developing in-house R&D capability to conduct operational trials to improve business services
  • partner with the external scientific community to identify, develop, optimise, validate and deliver project outcomes
  • develop collaborative links with the education sector to enhance the departments visibility as an employer of choice for high-performing graduates.

Since 2017, PIC@PEQ have worked closely with a range of external partners including universities, state governments and biosecurity treatment providers, to champion new and innovative initiatives to improve business outcomes ­– particularly in relation to cutting-edge diagnostic technologies and novel treatment strategies.

One such project is ‘High Throughput Sequencing (HTS) for high-risk plant diagnostics in PEQ’, a collaborative effort between PIC@PEQ, Science and Surveillance Group, Queensland University of Technology, Agriculture Victoria, Hort Innovation and the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries.

Mark Whattam, the Director and founder of PIC@PEQ, said that HTS will be a game-changer for how we detect and identify viruses in high-risk plants imported into Australia.

“At present, we run dozens of individual tests for viruses which is expensive and time-consuming,” Mr Whattam said.

“HTS will replace all of these with a single test. It will result in improved detections, cheaper imports, and faster clearance times with less resources.”

HTS is scheduled for implementation in late 2022, with the necessary policy settings currently under development via a divisional working group chaired by David Dall, the department’s head of Plant Science and Risk Assessment.

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