Diagnosis and testing

Diagnosis and testing

It is important that once it is intercepted, a pest organism is identified immediately so that the right action is taken by the authorities and by the public and businesses. Some organisms are harmful, some are already known to be introduced and widespread in the country or at EU level, but some might be found for the first time.

The identification of harmful organisms is not always straightforward. To start with, some of the organisms that cause damage to plants are very small or even microscopic, making the correct identification with the naked eye difficult if not impossible. This is why the Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) has the capacity to diagnose the cause of a particular pest disease or disorder, by identifying the organism that is causing it. Knowing which type of organism one is dealing with provides useful insights about the behaviour and life cycle of that organism, and thus serves as a guide for corrective, remedial or control action.

Among its facilities, the PPD has well-equipped diagnostic laboratories in which it is possible to test samples of plants and plant materials for the presence of plant pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, insects and nematodes. These tests are done in connection to obligatory surveys such as those needed to maintain the protected zone status, as well as in relation to other cases of interceptions.

In addition, the PPD is also equipped with facilities for the testing of soil, irrigation water, and seeds. Depending on the case and the context, some of these testing facilities may be used for routine testing, special projects, or research and investigation activities.