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Notification of the release of the final pest risk analysis report for "Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous" in fresh fruit, potato tubers, nursery stock and its vector the tomato-potato psyllid

16 September 2009​

​​This Biosecurity Australia Advice (BAA) notifies stakeholders of the release of the ‘Final pest risk analysis report for “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” in fresh fruit, potato tubers, nursery stock and its vector the tomato-potato psyllid’.

“Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” is a recently described species of bacterium affecting Solanaceae crops (including tomatoes, capsicums, potatoes and tamarillos). The pathogen affects both the growth and quality of plants and reduces yield.

The pest risk analysis (PRA) considers all potential host crops of “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” and its insect vector, the tomato-potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) from all countries.

The report proposes quarantine measures for importation to Australia of solanaceous crops from countries where ‘Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous’ and its vector are present.

The report takes account of submissions and comments by stakeholders on a draft report issued in May 2009.

Biosecurity New Zealand informed Australia of the detection of a new disease in glasshouse tomatoes and capsicums in June 2008. On 6 June, Australia responded by putting emergency measures in place to prevent the entry of this disease and its insect vector to Australia.

On 4 December 2008, Biosecurity Australia and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service revised the emergency measures to allow tomatoes and capsicums to enter Australia subject to a demonstrated control of the tomato-potato psyllid population in production sites (glasshouses) and mandatory methyl bromide fumigation (BAA 2008/35). Other solanaceous crops were not permitted.

Consistent with international obligations, Biosecurity Australia has undertaken a pest risk analysis for “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” affecting solanaceous crops. A draft pest risk analysis report was made available for consultation from 6 May until 8 June 2009. Stakeholder submissions were considered in the preparation of the final report.

The report identifies potatoes, nursery stock and the tomato-potato psyllid infected with “Ca. L. psyllaurous” as pathways for the introduction of the disease into Australia. Currently, potatoes for human consumption are not permitted access into Australia. However, the risk of “Ca. L. psyllaurous” associated with potato tubers has been evaluated as this is a potential pathway for movement of the bacterium.

A combination of quarantine measures and operational systems are proposed to reduce the risks associated with the importation of potatoes, nursery stock and tomato-potato psyllids.
The proposed measures include:

  • For potato tubers:
    • area freedom; or
    • processing in quarantine approved premises.
  • For nursery stock:
    • area freedom; or
    • post-entry quarantine and testing for “Ca. L. psyllaurous”.
  • For fruit potentially carrying tomato-potato psyllids:
    • area freedom from tomato-potato psyllids; or
    • a systems approach for fruit with pre- and post-harvest measures to ensure that fruit are not infested with tomato-potato psyllids; or
    • application to fruit of a treatment known to be effective against all life stages of the psyllid (including but not limited to methyl bromide fumigation); and
    • supporting operational systems to maintain and verify phytosanitary status.
  • For nursery stock potentially carrying tomato-potato psyllids:
    • area freedom from tomato-potato psyllids or
    • methyl bromide fumigation; and
    • supporting operational systems to maintain and verify phytosanitary status.

The report is available via Biosecurity Australia’s website.

Dr Colin J Grant
Chief Executive