National eDNA Reference Centre launched with University of Canberra

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

A new National Environmental (eDNA) Reference Centre will support the next generation of cutting-edge tools for Australia’s biosecurity system.

The National eDNA Reference Centre will be developed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the University of Canberra following the signing of a new partnership arrangement today.

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Andrew Metcalfe AO and University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon said the agreement would provide essential support to the department’s work in cutting edge eDNA research.

“This new centre is a critical component of the department’s National eDNA Testing Program and our ability to make informed biosecurity decisions at the Australian border, and beyond” Mr Metcalfe said.

“The National eDNA Testing Program will provide infrastructure, governance and policy to underpin and enable an efficient, functional, and sustainable eDNA testing for environmental and biosecurity risk management purposes.

“While the program will have the capacity for broad risk management application, our immediate focus is to address risks associated with khapra beetle and high-priority hitchhiker pests generally.

“eDNA testing is currently being used to detect khapra beetle and brown marmorated stink bug arriving in sea containers and help target biosecurity risk management. Over the next four years many other unwanted pest tests will become operational.”

Professor Nixon said the eDNA centre agreement recognises the expertise of the university in eDNA, which will further be complemented by a second partner arrangement for student exchange.

“This partnership recognises UC’s depth of research and we’re excited to be able to support the national effort of tackling invasive species at the points of entry,” Professor Nixon said.

“Training and research in partnership with faculty researchers and front-line biosecurity staff is essential to Australia’s future prosperity and ensures technology gets into the hands of the end users.

“The centre’s location, at our Bruce campus, will further create an opportunity for the Canberra region to lead eDNA research, facilitate collaboration and help establish national protocols and standards.”

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