In conjunction with the British Society for Plant Pathology. This meeting will cover rapid responses to emerging pathogens, both plant and clinical, the plant microbiome and its importance for plant and human health, detection of viral pathogens and the soil resistome.
14:05 - Making the unknown known: The application of diagnostic technologies in plant health virology
Adrian Fox, Fera Science, UK
Due to the obligate nature of viruses, plant virology has always been an early adopter of new diagnostic technologies. Until recently, the main diagnostic technologies applied in plant health laboratories were targeted and specific requiring a priori knowledge of the pathogens likely to be associated with a given host and symptom.
With the advent of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), the ability to detect the pathogens associated with plant diseases of unknown aetiology is becoming routine. The application of such approaches has resulted in an almost exponential increase in the number of previously uncharacterized viruses now being reported.
Whilst these discoveries have led to a deeper understanding of the diversity of the plant virome, the greatest challenge for plant health authorities in applying NGS now lies in differentiating between the pathogenic, commensal, or even mutualistic viruses. Pathogen characterisation in support of plant health risk assessment is a laborious process requiring demonstration of causation, host range studies, vector transmission studies and baseline surveillance.
Some of these considerations can be addressed through experimental set up, or through follow-up volume testing, whilst others may take months or years of additional research.
An overview of the development of NGS for frontline plant virus diagnostics will be illustrated with case studies highlighting the opportunities and challenges of deploying NGS in a plant health/biosecurity setting.