Australasia’s top research institutions have joined forces to develop diagnostics tools that aim to keep pests at bay and maintain good biosecurity across plant production industries.

Project overview

The Boosting Diagnostic Capacity for Plant Production Industries Project is a cross-industry Australia-wide project concentrating on high priority exotic pests that threaten production, trade and market access.

The project will improve the ability to detect pests in-field by increasing the diagnostic capacity of both industry and governments.

It will also enhance the sensitivity of laboratory diagnostic tools to create improvements in the diagnosis of suspect pests and diseases.

Laboratory identification improvements will be achieved by developing national diagnostic protocols, improved diagnostic tools and methodologies, along with establishing reference collections to support diagnostic functions.

National ​​​Priority Plant Pests

To help target the highest priority exotic plant pests and diseases in Australia, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has identified National Priority Plant Pests (NPPP).

The NPPP list is a set of 42 pests or pest groups that are a focus for government action because of their potential impact on plant production or the natural environment.

This list was endorsed by Australia’s Plant Health Committee in 2019. Pests on this list were selected because of the likelihood of entry into Australia, their ability to become established and spread, and their potential impact to plants and plant industries.

High Priority Pests (HPP) have been identified as the most significant exotic threats affecting various plant industries.

These are identified in individual Industry Biosecurity Plans available by request from Plant Health Australia.

Many of these are also listed as NPPPs.

National Priority Plant Pest Factsheets on how to detect and sample these targets have been developed by Cesar Australia for Boosting Diagnostics:

Industry collaboration

The Boosting Diagnostics for Plant Production Industries project is a partnership between the Grains Research and Development Corporation; Cotton Research and Development Corporation; Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd; Wine Australia; Sugar Research Australia Ltd; Forest and Wood Products Australia Ltd; AgriFutures Australia; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development (SARDI); Western Australian Agricultural Authority; Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions (VIC); Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QLD); Department of Primary Industries (NSW); Department of Primary Industry and Resources (NT); Biosecurity Tasmania; Plant Health Australia; Plant and Food Research; AUSVEG Ltd; Cesar Pty Ltd; and Bio-Protection Research Centre.


Throughout the remainder of 2022, AUSVEG will be coordinating extension and communications activities for Boosting Diagnostics, delivered in two streams: the Diagnostic Stream and In-field Stream.

The Diagnostics Stream will focus on delivering developed technologies, protocols and expertise to diagnosticians and lab-based personnel through relevant diagnostic events and activities. Meanwhile, the In-field Stream will focus on in-farm triage and translating the diagnostic knowledge to actionable on-farm capacity and capability.

This component will target professionals working in the field, ranging from agronomists, field pathologists, biosecurity officers, state surveillance staff and growers.

AUSVEG will run workshops in different regions across Australia, each focusing on the pests and diseases impacting each region’s industries and addressing their specific requirements. During this process, AUSVEG will increase the awareness and knowledge of selected National Priority Plant Pests (NPPPs), provide updates on project activities, and deliver updated resources to diagnostic personnel across the plant production industries.

For further details about the Boosting Diagnostics project, please contact National Manager for Engagement and Extension, Zarmeen Hassan on (03) 9882 0277 or email

This project is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment – as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program – and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Hort Innovation, Wine Australia, Sugar Research Australia, and Forest and Wood Products Australia.

For further information, please call AUSVEG on (03) 9882 0277, or contact:
Shakira Johnson (Engagement and Adoption Coordinator for iMapPESTS) at