DNA barcodes for quarantine organisms in the EU

  • Cottyn, Bart (ProjectSupervisor)
  • Constantin, Elena (Former Researcher)
  • Maes, Martine (Former Project Manager)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    A consultable international system for diagnosis and genetic identification of quarantine diseases and pests is needed, but how should it be organized? The European research project called QBOL develops DNA barcodes for arthropods, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, phytoplasms and viruses based on extensive working collections of these quarantine (Q) organisms and their relatives. The informative barcodes are all deposited on a curated Q-bank website, where they are freely accessible. They are also systematically linked with other databases on these Q organisms and with collections where the reference material can be retrieved. ILVO leads the barcoding of Q bacteria and partners with Ghent University and ACW in Switzerland on this project. ILVO also coordinates the reference collection of Q bacteria for which three important culture collections of the EU collaborate.

    Research approach
    DNA barcodes are rather short DNA sequences that are specific for the organism. Based on the knowledge of the organisms, selected genomic regions are sequenced to find such specific sequences. Priority is given to those Q organisms with a (potentially) large economic and ecological impact in the EU. The barcodes are used for identification and are therefore an extra instrument for diagnosis of symptoms and for control of plant products as possible carriers of Q diseases and pests.  

    Correct diagnosis and reliable identification of the harmful organisms are the basis for a responsible sanitary policy and for sustainable control of diseases and pests. Certain organisms can potentially cause important damage in plant cultures and our green environment and therefore have Q status within the EU. Barcodes are useful tools to support the plant sector in Flanders and the phytosanitary policymakers in Belgium and the EU. But also regions outside the EU can use barcodes to preventively test their transport goods to the EU for contamination with organisms appearing on the EU quarantine list.

    External partner(s)
    Research Station Agroscope Changings - Wädenwil ACW
    UGent - Fac. Wetenschappen
    Wageningen UR - PRI-Plant Research International
    Effective start/end date1/03/091/03/13