Diagnostics is a critical first step in determining the significance of a suspected biosecurity threat posed by Emergency Plant Pests (EPPs) and other pests and pathogens.
Traditionally the biological specimens involved in these threats requiring identification are physically mailed to taxonomic experts for determination. While effective, this is an expensive, labour-intensive and slow process, often taking days to receive a confirmed identification. To address these shortcomings, a web-based, real-time diagnostics system, the Remote Microscopy (RM) system, was developed. This system allows identifications to be undertaken directly between those with EPPs and taxonomic experts capable of providing instant diagnostic services – regardless of the geographic location of either party, so saving money and resources. The RM network is launched from the Pest and Diseases Image Library (PaDIL), and acts as part of a one-stop diagnostic shop that also includes PaDIL, the Plant
Biosecurity ToolBox (diagnostic database) and the BioSecurity Bank (genetic information). RM effectively aids in identifying pests in quarantine settings, providing both economic and biosecurity benefits. Applications of RM domestically and internationally present immense value in training as well as diagnosis. The RM network will also play a part in the training of diagnostic and quarantine personnel or in general education settings in our national collections, museums and universities. RM will also build on existing databases and resource pools such as those based in the PaDIL. This will be achieved through the application of
dynamic software to allow authors to develop tools such as identification keys and other elements of existing databases. Recording of live video feeds to PaDIL via the RM and the subsequent availability of this and other PaDIL based data to PDA’s and podcast applications will be developed. Three key learning’s: RM has the ability to overcome time and distance
factors to provide an accurate and interactive training. RM will provide a diagnostic facility that will vastly increase diagnostic capacity and enable fast and accurate responses to biosecurity threats. Future extensions of the RM system include PDA applications and dynamic authorship tools such as identification keys and data-basing.