The widespread availability of genomics data and molecular tools for pathogen detection and identification provides scientists and regulators a powerful toolbox for pathogen monitoring. However, this raises questions and concerns regarding the use of these tools in import and export of forest commodities. Discussions around implementation and standardization have highlighted knowledge gaps around their efficacy and suitability in wood and their applicability to forest commodities. This study compared detection efficacy of various emerging tools on artificially infected forest and wood commodities, focusing on Phytophthora pathogens, an important group of invasive and sometimes difficult to detect species. In situ detection was more sensitive than traditional isolation, and for some methods, 100% of infected samples were positive. Detection efficacy varied by tissue type and detection method. The data generated from this study is important in addressing knowledge gaps around pathogen detection in wood.
Large volumes of forest products are traded internationally. With this comes an increased risk of moving forest pathogens associated with these products. To protect both forest health and international trade, prevention or control of pest movement and establishment needs to be done using approaches which result in minimal trade interruption. Rapid, economical, and accurate detection, identification and risk assessment of pathogens is one of the key aspects of successful management. Significant developments in the last two decades in genomics has enabled more accurate and rapid detection of pathogens. However, many of these techniques have not been thoroughly tested in wood and lack associated standards governing their use in a regulatory setting. There are ongoing concerns that these new methods will add regulatory compliance costs to industry and other stakeholders, or that they will be used improperly and unduly limit market access. To address these concerns, it is critical that the capabilities and limits of these tools are well understood by both industry and international regulators, and that standards are developed to govern their use to help reduce the threat of pests while minimizing the impact to trade. This report summarizes current technologies and suggests ways forward.