Future advances

DNA-based technologies will continue to increase the speed, sensitivity and accuracy of pest and pathogen detection and diagnosis.

Monitoring will improve with remote sensing technologies, novel sensors and biosensors. A diverse range of novel control methods are continually being developed. AHDB Horticulture projects focus on technologies which show real potential to be of practical use in commercial production.

In the protected sector, examples of current AHDB development projects include:

  • AHDB Horticulture project PE 001‘Cucumber: Improving control of gummy stem blight’ developed monoclonal antisera and a laboratory-based ELISA test to monitor glasshouse aerosols for Mycosphaerella melonis spore presence. AHDB Horticulture project CP 137 ‘Cucumber: Development and testing of a lateral flow device for both gummy stem blight and powdery mildew in bio-aerosols during cucurbit production’ aims to provide information more rapidly with a lateral flow ‘on-site’ format for direct grower or consultant use. Monoclonal antibodies have been developed to the two species of cucumber powdery mildew that are known to cause the disease in European cucumber production. These antibodies are now being assessed for their selective reactivity potential to powdery mildew and the use of these diagnostic probes will be evaluated in ELISA and lateral flow for quantitative measurement of the cucumber powdery mildew pathogen and later applied to commercial production for assessment. It is hoped these will allow growers to make more informed management decisions in their crops

A competitive lateral flow assay with increasing spore numbers added.

  • AHDB Horticulture studentship CP 082‘Discovery and development of new phylloplane biocontrol agents to control insect pests’ identified several highly effective aphid-killing biocontrol bacteria. CP 120 ‘Understanding the impact of phylloplane biocontrol agents on insects’ is seeking to determine whether improved aphid-killing ability in the bacteria can be evolved and enhance the aphicidal properties
  • AHDB Horticulture project PE 029‘Protected tomato: Evaluation of biological treatments, biocides and an improved diagnostic for control of root mat disease’ aims to identify biological treatments and biocides that reliably control or suppress root mat disease by prevention of infection and transformation of protected tomato by bacteria carrying the root initiation plasmid (pRi) and to develop a rapid molecular test for early detection of infected plants

AHDB Horticulture pest and disease calls aim to develop IPM-based approach control methods for a range of crops where pest or disease is a high priority. Work will include scientific review, efficacy, cultural control, precision, monitoring, genetics, resistance, elicitors, virus and diagnostics. The calls also aim to cover industry priority needs identified by the Horticulture panels and high-priority areas of work identified in the gap analysis

The Government commissioned a Foresight report: Infectious diseases: preparing for the future. The aim of the project was to ‘produce a vision of future systems for the detection, identification and monitoring (DIM) of infectious diseases, and to assess how they might transform our capabilities in managing the future threat. The report looks ahead 10–25 years and postulates future DIM systems, based on developments in diverse areas of science. The future use of these DIM systems is then illustrated through a series of case examples. Finally, the analysis is drawn together to identify the key issues and choices that will affect their development and effective implementation.’

A conference held in Australia in 2016 ‘Smart biosecurity science for horticulture’ has some different perspectives on surveillance, monitoring and diagnostics.