6th Meeting of the Panel on Diagnostics and Quality Assurance

Paris, 2016-01-19/21


The Panel was hosted at the EPPO headquarters. The Panel continued its tasks including: work on general protocols on quality assurance, reviewing draft IPPC Diagnostic Protocols to prepare regional comments, identifying research needs, reviewing national initiatives in the field of diagnostics, suggesting improvements that could be made to the EPPO Databases, reviewing the activities of specialized diagnostic Panels, reviewing at least once during the preparation process drafts of pest-specific diagnostic protocols in particular to ensure consistency between the different diagnostic protocols proposed for adoption.


Horizontal EPPO Standards in preparation – New Standards

Standard on DNA barcoding as an identification tool for selected regulated pests
The Panel reviewed this Standard and considered that, as soon as the last validation data from the TPS is added (this should be done by the end of February) that this can be sent for country consultation. The Panel considered that a training workshop on barcoding would be very useful and possibilities for this were discussed.


Guidelines on flexible scope in plant health
It was agreed that a meeting on flexible scope, with both representatives of the accreditation bodies and plant health experts was needed. This will be organised once feedback is received from the Dutch colleagues who are undergoing accreditation of flexible scope, once they have an official answer from their accreditation body.


Guidelines for the authorization of laboratories
The Panel reviewed the feedback from NPPOs on the draft Standard ‘Guidelines for the authorization of laboratories’, these preliminary comments were gathered as the guidelines include obligations for NPPOs. It was clarified that this Standard could cover all laboratories carrying out plant pest diagnostics for NPPOs. The comments were reviewed and a revised version was prepared that was considered to be ready to be sent for country consultation.


Guidelines on National reference laboratory 
It was agreed that work on this topic should be postponed to 2018 due to the current developments in this area.


Generic Standard on the detection of pospiviroids
The Panel was informed about the progress made on this Standard by the Panel on Diagnostics in Virology and Phytoplasmology and taking into account the outputs from the Testa EU FP 7 project (Seed health: development of seed treatment methods, evidence for seed transmission and assessment of seed health) which developed generic tools for pospiviroids.



Update on new activities within EPPO

The Euphresco Strategic Research Agenda was discussed. An update on the current situation concerning the request for EPPO to host Q-bank was also presented.



General discussions

IPPC protocols
The Panel discussed the involvement of EPPO experts in contributing to the development of IPPC Diagnostic Protocols. In order to continue to ensure fruitful collaboration with IPPC, EPPO has been invited to participate to the future meetings of IPPC Technical Panel on Diagnostic Protocols.


ISO/CD 13484 Foodstuffs Molecular Biomarker Analysis - General requirements for molecular biology analysis for detection and identification of plant pests
The Panel discussed the potential impact of this Standard on plant health laboratories and members agreed to contact their respective national bodies and be ready to comment on this Standard when it is circulated for a vote. Members of the Panel continue to be involved in ISO teleconferences on this Standard and the Panel encouraged the EPPO Secretariat to join these.


Instructions for authors
The Panel updated the EPPO ‘Instruction to authors on the format and content of a Diagnostic Protocol’.


Q-collect outcomes 
The Panel discussed the outcomes of the EU funded Q-collect project . The Panel had concerns about the draft guidelines on Quality assurance for reference collections in particular classifications of what a working collection should be able to do (compared to a reference collection) and the impacts that recommendations could have on their work. Finally an alternative approach was considered that would focus on the requirements for reference material (rather than applying quality standards to an entire collection). It was agreed that this will need further consideration. 


Next generation sequencing 
The Panel discussed next generation sequencing for diagnostics and agreed that the Panel could aim to develop a Standard on this in the next 3 or 4 years.


National initiatives
The DEFRA Plant health professional initiative (UK) and information on the Proficiency testing program in France and Slovenia were presented.