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
Joint meeting with the European Mycological Network
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 100 diagnostic protocols have been approved.
Draft protocols (under construction): a list of protocols under preparation will be displayed on this web page in due course.
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). Laboratories registered in the EPPO database on Diagnostic Expertise (see below) were asked to indicate the number of samples that they tested in 2007 and which test they used. From this survey it can be concluded that many of the tests for detection mentioned in EPPO diagnostic protocols are widely used in laboratories in the EPPO Region.
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.
In 2003, a separate Panel was created to develop standards on quality assurance, and so far two EPPO Standards have been approved in 2007 and 2010.
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 May 2012, 75 laboratories from 31 countries 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 auditors for pest diagnostic laboratories for accreditation.
Since 1985, EPPO has organized a series of workshops and conferences on diagnostics.
Summaries of the recent conferences and workshops can be viewed here.
PQR: is the EPPO database on quarantine pests (geographical distribution and maps, host plants, pathways, pictures).
EPPT: is the EPPO Plant Protection Thesaurus, a database which contains scientific and common names, elements of taxonomy, and computer codes, for more than 58 000 species of plants and pests of agricultural importance.
EPPO Reporting Service: is a free monthly report on events of phytosantiary concern (new geographical records, new host plants, new pests, new diagnostic methods).
EUPHRESCO: is a European Research Area Network (ERA-NET) project for research policy development and implementation in the field of statutory and emerging plant pests.
QBOL: is a project financed by the 7th Framework Program of the European Union that makes collections containing plant pathogenic quarantine organisms available. Informative genes from selected species on the EU Directive and EPPO lists are DNA barcoded from vouchered specimens.
Q-Detect: is 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.