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Main research question/goal

The aim of this project is to determine the correct phytosanitary status of 13 well-defined pest insects, one harmful plant fungus, one nematode and one plant virus, and that specifically for the Belgian territory. Taken as a whole, we suspect that they can pose a threat to (parts of) fruit and vegetable growing and tree nurseries. The problem is that so far no extensive survey has been set up in Belgium for these diseases and pests and that there is no data about their status with us. In addition, no systematic scientific literature research has yet been carried out that provides additional information on biology, host plants, geographical distribution and the introduction and establishment potential. This project changes that.

Research approach

For each of the target organisms we choose relevant agricultural and horticultural companies and risk sites, which we monitor intensively during three growing seasons to map out their presence (the status of the disease or pest) on an objective basis. Specifically, the insects are Popillia japonica, Thrips setosus, Aromia bungii, Polygraphus proximus and 7 non-European Tephritidae (in fruit and vegetable cultivation). We monitor them using different types of traps and sampling of suspect plant material. In addition, we set up a survey around the nematode Meloidogyne mali, initially specifically in elm plantings, but with special attention to plantings with trees from the former Dutch breeding program against Dutch elm disease. When presence is established, we also plan sampling of other possible host plants in the area. For the fungus Diplocarpon mali we first develop an optimized survey technique, including a specific quantitative PCR (qPCR). We plan the survey itself in apple cultivation, based on symptoms and ascospore detection. We also investigate the effectiveness of the fungicides registered in apple cultivation against D. mali. And we look at the susceptibility of the main apple varieties for this fungus. The tomato leaf Curl New Delhi virus survey focuses mainly on Cucurbitaceae (courgette, cucumber, melon) and Solanaceae (tomato, pepper) in greenhouses. We link this survey to outbreaks of the tobacco whitefly Bemisia tabaci (the vector of the virus).


The results regarding the various target organisms will be placed in a so-called status determination (results of the survey) and a database with literature data per organism. This makes the results immediately accessible for policy makers. We share the acquired knowledge and results through sector-oriented and popularized publications, through participation in relevant (inter)-national conferences and through scientific A1 publications if possible. Developed qPCR techniques for specific (latent) detection of organisms, as well as survey techniques are also available to the public for use by the government, research institutes and growers.


Funding provider(s)
FOD Volksgezondheid, Veiligheid van de voedselketen en Leefmilieu
Effective start/end date1/04/1831/10/20

ID: 6374005