Development of Rapid Pest Identification Using DNA Barcoding to Increase the Biosecurity on Ontario Greenhouse Flower Farms

Posted on October 31, 2012 By Flowers Canada Posted In Current Projects

The new global economy is driving extensive movement of floriculture plant material (unrooted cuttings, cut flowers, and flowering potted plants) internationally, making the detection and deterrence of insect pest infestations a major concern for horticultural bio-security. Because these non-native pests can rapidly establish themselves in a greenhouse and cause extensive economic damage if the greenhouse is quarantined, new collaborative bio-surveillance programs are needed to support rapid response emergency management across the sector. An ideal system would be able to rapidly identify a potential pest from any life stage, in a rapid and cost effective manner. It would also aggregate the resulting bio-monitoring data in a secure, online framework that would support collective decision making by both government and industry.

DNA barcoding is a powerful, high-throughput species identification tool which meets this need. Supported by the Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD,, a collaborative online workbench for aggregating barcoding data, barcoding and BOLD can form the core of an integrated bio-surveillance platform that aggregates data from multiple sites (greenhouse farms, border crossings, airports) in a standardized way. Onboard data visualization tools can facilitate epidemiological forecasting and aid emergency response management.

This project aims to implement a pilot barcode-based bio-monitoring program involving Flowers Canada Ontario members in order to evaluate the appropriate methods and frequency of bio-monitoring required to provide meaningful bio-security protection.  It will also provide robust cost estimates of this molecular approach to bio-monitoring in order to determine the economic feasibility of implementing it more broadly.


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