Beware of the enemy within

November 17, 2010
Beware of the enemy within
There is new evidence that Australia’s internal quarantine restrictions for insect pests play an important role in protecting the nation’s agricultural industries. Credit: CSIRO

Evidence supporting Australia's internal quarantine restrictions designed to stop the spread of insect pests, has been published in the respected scientific journal, Nature Communications.

Led by CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences’ Dr. Dean Paini, an international group of scientists at the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity used a type of artificial intelligence (or machine learning) to determine the top 100 most likely to establish in all 48 contiguous states of the US, and how many had not yet established in each of those states.

They then asked: ‘Of these absent species, how many are already found somewhere else in the US?’

The answer was that for most states, all the species absent from that state are found somewhere else in the US – often in a neighbouring state.

"Thus the immediate threat from invasive insect pests to individual US states is from within the US itself," Dr Paini said.

"While most countries, including , place great emphasis on border protection through national and international regulation, the results from this US research show that biosecurity policy needs to be broader than that.

"In any large country, such as Australia, biosecurity must also look at the risks posed by pests already established somewhere within their borders and impose appropriate restrictions to prevent their spread.

"So, if, when moving between states, or even between some geographic areas, Australian travellers are required to dispose of items such as fruit, vegetables or pot plants, they need to remember this is an important part of our biosecurity."

Explore further: 'Jekyll and Hyde' bacteria offer pest control clue

Related Stories

From international harbor to native habitat

March 16, 2010

In the 1930s, soil used as ballast to weigh down cargo ships from South America to Mobile, Alabama introduced the red imported fire ant to the southern United States. Since then, the ants have been found as far north as Maryland ...

Biofuel crops push ignoring biosecurity impacts

April 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Important biosecurity issues are being ignored in the global push to develop new non-food crops for biofuels and industrial and pharmaceutical uses, according to a report published recently by CSIRO.

Recommended for you

Research advances on transplant ward pathogen

August 28, 2015

The fungus Cryptococcus causes meningitis, a brain disease that kills about 1 million people each year—mainly those with impaired immune systems due to AIDS, cancer treatment or an organ transplant. It's difficult to treat ...

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.