The EPPO–Euphresco Colloquium ‘Plant Health at the age of metagenomics’ brought together scientists and regulators who are involved in plant health. By sharing experiences and information, together we can better understand the possibilities that metagenomics offers and how to use the vast amounts of information that will become available to improve protection of plant health.
Some of the crucial questions asked included:
- What makes a new species that is detected a threat, and warrants phytosanitary action?
- What in the genome, the proteins and other molecules of a pest makes it potentially invasive in a new region or a risk to a new host?
- If we shift the focus from pests only to the interaction between plants and pests one can ask what in a plant makes it a host, or more (or less) susceptible to damage by the pest?
This colloquium was a very good opportunity to discuss the challenges associated with the study of the genome of pests, populations and plants, and the opportunities offered to obtain information about which plants are hosts, the extent of damage the pest could cause in a host and the way in which we could mitigate the effect of the pest.