Since 1998, EPPO has established a work programme in the area of diagnostics to harmonize procedures across the EPPO region. This programme mainly focuses on the diagnostics of pests which are regulated as quarantine pests. The different activities conducted in this framework are described below.
The preparation of protocols involves close collaboration between different EPPO Panels involved in diagnostics. These Panels are composed of diagnostic experts nominated by the NPPOs of the EPPO member countries. The EPPO Panels involved in diagnostics are the following (click on the links to view their composition):
Panel on Diagnostics and Quality Assurance
Panel on Diagnostics in Bacteriology
Panel on Diagnostics in Entomology
Panel on Diagnostics in Nematology
Panel on Diagnostics in Virology and Phytoplasmology
Panel on Diagnostics in Mycology
Each draft diagnostic protocol is initially prepared by an individual expert according to a common format which ensures that the draft contains all necessary information to detect and positively identify a particular pest. Whenever available, validation data is also provided for the different tests included in the diagnostic protocols. The draft protocols are reviewed by the relevant Panels and submitted to a consultation phase among all EPPO member countries to ensure their wide acceptance. As it is the case for all EPPO Standards, diagnostic protocols are officially approved by the EPPO Council (at its yearly Session in September) and then published in the EPPO Bulletin. Over 125 diagnostic protocols have been approved.
For each pest-specific protocol one (or more) expert from the relevant Panel is responsible for reviewing the new literature for this pest before each Panel meeting and informing the EPPO Secretariat if there is a need to revise the protocol (e.g. due to new improved tests being developed which should be included or changes in taxonomy). Protocols which are under revision are marked as such on the EPPO website.
Draft Standards:the following Standards are under preparation by the various Panels:
A survey on the use of the protocols was conducted in 2008 on a selection of 58 protocols in all disciplines of plant health diagnosis (Petter & Suffert, 2010). This survey was repeated in 2013 on 68 protocols. The results from this were used to identify the widely used tests as these can be used under accreditation following PM 7/98 Specific requirements for laboratories preparing accreditation for a plant pest diagnostic activity without providing data on repeatability and reproducibility as these are considered as giving appropriate confidence regarding repeatability, reproducibility and selectivity.
The EPPO Technical Document no. 1056: Pictorial Glossary of Morphological Terms in Nematology lists all nematological terms used in the EPPO diagnostic protocols on plant parasitic nematodes with their definitions.
General standards on diagnostics including how to use the Standards, reporting, and quality assurance have been approved:
A joint communiqué between EPPO and EA (European Co-operation for Accreditation, the European network of nationally recognised accreditation bodies) states that 'EA will recommend that assessors from Accreditation Bodies take note of EPPO documents when evaluating plant pest diagnostic laboratories'. Since 2011-01 EPPO is a 'recognized stakeholder' for EA.
In 2004, EPPO Council stressed that the implementation of phytosanitary regulations for quarantine pests was jeopardized by decreasing knowledge in plant protection (Madeira declaration). The Panel on Diagnostics proposed that an inventory should be made of the available expertise on diagnostics in Europe. The database on Diagnostic Expertise was created (Roy et al., 2010) to allow identification of experts who can provide diagnosis of regulated species and those who can help in the identification of new or difficult to identify species. EPPO member countries were contacted and as of October 2016, 77 laboratories from 33 countries are included and have provided data corresponding to more than 500 experts. These results are available in a searchable database on the EPPO website. The database can also help national accreditation bodies identify technical auditors/experts for pest diagnostic laboratories for accreditation. Validation data is provided in part of this database. As of October 2016, 166 validation reports were available on tests for bacteria, chromista, fungi, insects, nematodes and viruses/viroids. Test performance studies on multiple pests, such as that from the Euphresco DNA barcoding project, are also available.
Since 1985, EPPO has organized a series of workshops and conferences on diagnostics.
Summaries of the recent conferences and workshops can be viewed here.
EPPO Global Database:is a web-based database which has the objective to gather all pest-specific information that has been produced by EPPO. Although, some parts of the database are still under development (PRA documents and datasheets), it currently contains scientific and common names for plants and pests, as well as their associated computer codes (EPPO Codes); basic information for more than 73 000 species and detailed information for more than 1600 pest species, EPPO datasheets; EPPO Standards (including diagnostic protocols); EPPO Reporting Service articles, and more than 3500 pictures of pests.
EPPO Reporting Service: is a free monthly report on events of phytosanitary concern (new geographical records, new host plants, new pests, new diagnostic methods).
Euphresco: since 2014, EPPO is hosting Euphresco, a network of organizations (e.g. NPPOs, research institutes) funding and coordinating research in plant health. The coordinator of Euphresco is Mr B. Giovani.
IPPC Phytosanitary resources: Diagnostic protocols on diagnostics
Q-Detect: was a multi-disciplinary research network focused on developing innovative tools that enhance the capacity of phytosanitary inspectors to protect European agriculture and forestry sectors from invasive pests.
Q-bank: is a database on diagnostic tools for quarantine pests. This database includes data from the Quarantine organisms Barcoding Of Life (QBOL) project financed by 7th framework program of the European Union, and the DNA barcoding EUPHRESCO II project and other curated data.
Q-collect: was a project financed by the 7th Framework Program of the European Union. It aims to improve the status of reference collections important to plant health.
TESTA: was a project financed by the 7th Framework Program of the European Union on Seed health: development of seed treatment methods, evidence for seed transmission and assessment of seed health. EPPO is a partner in this project and outcomes will be used to develop or revise EPPO Standards as appropriate (e.g. Diagnostic Protocols).