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    09013: Diagnostic tools help identify pest and disease incursions

    Laser micro-dissection microscope housed at the Fish Health Unit at the Department of Agriculture and Food in South Perth. Courtesy Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
    Laser micro-dissection microscope housed at the Fish Health Unit at the Department of Agriculture and Food in South Perth. Courtesy Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

    The ability to identify pest and disease incursions has been dramatically improved with the purchase of new diagnostic tools. The laser micro-dissection microscope and a real-time polymerase chain reaction unit are housed at the Department of Fisheries' Fish Health Unit at South Perth.

    The tools allow fast analysis of large numbers of samples, enabling quick responses to both aquatic and terrestrial pest and disease incursions.

    The Fish Health Unit purchased the tools with funds provided by the State NRM Program.

    Investment: $ 228 883
    In-kind contribution: $ 400 000
    Other contribution: $ 600 000
    Delivery organisation: Department of Fisheries
    Project duration: November 2009 - July 2010
    Location: Fish Health Unit of the Department of Fisheries based at the Department of Agriculture and Food in South Perth

    Major project achievements

    • State's ability to identify pest and disease incursions greatly improved with purchase of a laser micro-dissection microscope. This microscope allows quick identification of pathogens at the cellular level. There is no equivalent machine available in Perth for animal disease diagnosis. Samples were previously analysed at Sydney University.
    • Purchase of a real-time polymerase chain reaction machine enabled a large number of DNA samples to be identified in a matter of hours rather than days. This has resulted in time and labour saving that, in a disease incursion, can provide a significant advantage. This new machine relieves pressure on a machine currently operated by the Animal Health Laboratories at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, resulting in a faster turnaround of diagnostic samples of aquatic pests and diseases.
    • Equipment used to determine whether parasites caused a failure to thrive in farmed mulloway in Geraldton, to research nerve tissue issues in the southern blue fin tuna and to research the diseases of oedema and chlamydia in pearl oysters.

    Project partners

    Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

    More information

    Animal Health Laboratory at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (08) 9368 3351

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