International trade has increased exponentially over recent years with lots of materials being imported to and exported out of the European Union. This trade enhances the risk of importing unwanted organisms such as plant pests and pathogens, some of which may be on the EU quarantine list.
Meanwhile, climate change may increase the ability of plant pests to survive in regions other than those of their origin. Within the field of plant health, a decline in taxonomic and phytosanitary experience has become apparent over the last decade and the relevant phytosanitary collections are under pressure. This will affect all members of the EU and other nations.
To regulate and control plant pathogens there is an increasing need for efficient and reliable identification and detection tools. For their development and validation, good and well-maintained collections containing relevant species are indispensable. A significant number of plant pest collections are still present within Europe but they are widely dispersed and of very variable quality. NPPOs, certified laboratories, universities and research institutes all have their own collections related to their specific work and scope. Many of these collections are connected to a single specialist.
Within Europe there is a need to improve the infrastructure supporting key phytosanitary collections. The available infrastructure needs to be used more efficiently and collaboration improved with regard to methods, knowledge and expertise on taxonomy, the development of detection methods and collections of important phytosanitary organisms. The main outputs to be disseminated from the project will include an inventory of the characteristics of phytosanitary collections within Europe, guidelines to improve quality standards and access, and the design and creation of sustainable networks of reference collections.