Q-collect Workshop for collections and users of biological material

Kleinmachnow, DE, 2014-11-27/28

Creating a harmonized Europe-wide
framework of plant pest collections


Q-collect is a EU FP7 funded project which started on the 1st of October 2013 and aims to improve the status of reference collections important to plant health (more information on the project is available on the Q-collect website). In this framework, a Workshop was organized by the EPPO Secretariat (a partner in this project) to present the progress made after 12 months, and gather stakeholder expectations. The meeting took place at the Julius Kühn Institute in Kleinmachnow (DE) on 2014-11-27/28 and 45 participants from 16 countries attended. The audience was composed of collections’ stakeholders (such as experts from plant pest diagnostic laboratories, as users of biological material) and project participants.


The Workshop was organized over one and a half days and consisted of presentations followed by breakout sessions in small groups.


Participants - view more pictures >



The presentations made included:

  • A general overview of the project by the Coordinator (P. Bonants, PRI, Plant Research International, NL) and an introduction on why collections are important by the EPPO Secretariat (F. Petter, EPPO, European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, FR).
  • Presentations from users of biological material and of national collections available to them:
    • Collections in the Russian Federation by K. Kornev (FGU VNIIKR, All-Russian Plant Quarantine Center, RU)
    • Collections in Slovenia by M. Ravnikar (NIB, National Institute of Biology, SI)
    • German collections in JKI by H. Ziebell (JKI, Julius-Kühn Institute, DE)


  • Presentations of two regional initiatives to establish networks of collections:
    • Q-Bacco-Net (plant quarantine bacteria) by P. de Vos (BCCM/LMG, Belgian Co-ordinated Collections of micro-organisms/Laboratory of Microbiology in Ghent, BE)
    • Viruscollect (a Euphresco funded project on reference collection for regulated viruses and viroids) by R. van de Vlugt (PRI, Plant Research International, NL)


  • A presentation on MIRRI (Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure) by his coordinator E. Stackebrandt (DSMZ, German Collection of Microorganism and Cell Cultures, DE), a project which aims to support research and development in the field of biotechnology. Ensuring that synergies are established between MIRRI and Q-collect is important as accessibility, availability and quality of microbial resources are also a focus in the field of biotechnology and some plant pests are also the target of this project (e.g. bacteria, fungi).
  • Q-collect partners presented the first results of the project including:
    • The preliminary results of the questionnaire organized to make an inventory of collections by J.C. Streito (INRA, French National Institute For Agricultural Research, FR)
    • The statu quo on quality standards for collection by J. Elphinstone (Fera, Food and Environment Research Agency, GB)
    • The preliminary results of the questionnaire for access to biological material by stakeholders by P. Portier (INRA, French National Institute For Agricultural Research, FR)
    • The inventory of existing tools for identification, classification, websites and databases containing useful meta data of interest to Q-collections and their end-users by N. van de Wiele (CBS, Fungal Biodiversity Center, NL)
    • Plans towards a Sustainable European network of reference collections by S. Blümel (AGES, Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, AT)



Workshop conclusions and recommendations

Breakout sessions lasting two-hours were organized, focusing on the following subjects:

  • Group 1: Quality Standards in collections: Standards already existing, gaps that need to be considered, and implementation of Standards
  • Group 2: Access to biological material: constraints and recommendations from the point of views of collections and their customers.
  • Group 3: Feedback on the Q-collect questionnaire to collections: bias, additional ideas for interpretation, future steps.


The three sessions were run twice in parallel and participants attended 2 of the 3 sessions. Conclusions and recommendations on the above topics were shared and agreed at the end of the workshop.  They are presented below.



The Workshop emphasized that reference material is needed for development of tests, validation of tests and as controls to be included in the use of tests. Availability and accessibility to quality reference material for plant pest diagnostics urgently needs to be improved.


The Workshop welcomed the first results of the Q-collect project and made the following recommendations concerning the project :

  • Sets of Standards for the different types of collections (e.g. reference collections/ working collections) should be proposed.
  • The creation of a central web portal should be envisaged to allow access to relevant phytosanitary collections.
  • Q-collect should make recommendations to upgrade working collections to a level similar to a reference collection for those disciplines where reference collections are lacking.
  • A position paper on the importance and need for reference material in plant health should be prepared to be used in particular in the context of the discussions on the new EU legislation on official controls.


In addition, the Workshop considered that the results of the Q-collect project could support the need for future infrastructure projects. Finally it was recommended that the project should consider future development regarding both infrastructures and new diagnostic technologies.


The project consortium was encouraged to reopen some of the questionnaires performed in the first year to get an optimized overview of existing collections. The interpretation of the results should involve specialists from the different disciplines. The questionnaire will consequently be reopened and the deadline to complete it is the 31st of January 2015.