Development of accurate identification tools for plant pathogens and pests is vital to support European Plant Health Policies.
The number of plants being traded worldwide increases, so the chance of harmful organisms spreading is enhanced. At the same time, the taxonomic knowledge available to identify harmful quarantine organisms via their visual characteristics is gradually decreasing.
The economic damage is significant: Both when a harmful quarantine organism is not identified and when an organism is incorrectly diagnosed as a quarantine organism because, for instance, it looks a great deal like a quarantine organism (so-called look-alikes).
In the EU there are some 275 quarantine organisms for which protective measures against introduction into and their spread within the Community needs to be taken.
About DNA barcoding
DNA barcoding is a taxonomic method that uses a short genetic marker in an organism's DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species.
Although the DNA sequences of related species are generally very similar, there are differences to be found. The part of the DNA sequence that is different is specific to that particular organism and forms a unique and specific molecular DNA barcode. In the QBOL project one or several specific DNA barcodes will be made for each quarantine organism.
Barcoding for diagnostics
DNA barcoding has arisen as a robust and standardized approach to species identification. QBOL will make DNA barcoding available for plant health diagnostics and is focusing on strengthening the link between traditional and molecular taxonomy as a sustainable diagnostic resource.