Enhancement of efficiency of plant health inspection, risk assessment and control of healthy plant production by adoption of a broad spectrum diagnostic approach

Prevention is the most effective and economical method for plant protection. It requires accurate and broad-based identification of pests. The current identification methods are limited by their specificity to a certain species or species group, especially with regards to viruses and viroids. Due to the wide occurrence of pests, it has not been possible to maintain readiness for diagnosing all potential pests in our country; instead, the analysed pests must be selected. A new, broad-based identification method, the analysis of siRNA, is a comprehensive and cost-effective solution for identifying viruses and viroids.

The new method is aimed at more comprehensive management of viruses and viroids without raising the cost of plant inspections. The ultimate goal is to boost the possibilities to prevent the threats to plant production arriving with imported plant materials (viruses and viroids), guarantee the quality and competitiveness of domestic certified plant production, and secure the profitability of domestic plant production in both arable crop and horticultural production.

The know-how and information obtained through the project will be used to intensify the supervision of plant health legislation and in the focusing of risk assessments in order to ensure the competitivenss of Finnish plant production. The method will be transferred to Evira’s pest laboratory. It can be used to comprehensively test the core plant material of certified plant production and chart the viruses and viroids spreading to Finland with ornamental plants.

small RNA, siRNA, molecular biology, pests, viruses, viroids

Responsible project leader:
Jari Valkonen, Professor, University of Helsinki

Person at Evira responsible for the project:
Salla Hannunen, Senior Researcher, PhD, Risk Assessment Research Unit

In cooperation with:
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

The project is connected to the joint project of Evira and Luke, “Development and application of a risk prioritisation scheme of invasive agricultural and horticultural pests”, and the broad-based project for supporting the implementation of Finland’s National Strategy for Invasive Alien Species, “Increasing knowledge on invasive alien species (IAS) in Finland” and its sub-project “Pathways of pests and their significance” in particular, in addition to the “Finnish National Plant Genetic Resources Programme”.

Project status:
In progress 

Year of commencement:

Year of completion:

Vainio, E.J., Jurvansuu, J., Streng, J., Rajamäki, M.L. Hantula, J. & Valkonen, J.P.T. 2015. Diagnosis and discovery of fungal viruses by deep sequencing of small RNAs. Journal of General Virology 96: 714–725.

Project is financed by: 
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 1520/312/2015

Evira's project code: