Australian horticultural production is valued at $9 billion pa, feeding the nation, building wealth, and sustaining rural communities. However, many Australian horticulture industries are currently confronted by significant and growing threat from invasive pest fruit flies. Recent years have seen the spread of fruit fly pests into previously ‘fruit fly free’ growing regions within Australia, persistent and increasing threat of invasion by exotic fruit fly species from overseas, and recent regulatory loss for many crops of the most effective and widely used insecticides that have protected crops from fruit fly pests for generations of horticulturalists and consumers. These are the major issues addressed by the Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation.
New environmentally and medically benign approaches to fruit fly management will require not just different tools, but different management concepts. New approaches will rely on better understanding of species distinctions and ecology and will require targeted and contained deployment of insecticides as well as development of new ‘soft’ insecticides and alternative control measures. The Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation seeks to provide Australian horticulture new management tools and to train a new generation of fruit fly researchers through partnership and formal research training.
The Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation co-ordinates research and research training across three universities, Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology, and Western Sydney University, and four Partner Organisations: New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, and Ecogrow Environmental Ltd. With a focus on research training, the Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation supports three Research Fellows and ten PhD students, who are distributed across and move freely between participating organisations.
Research activities of the Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation are supported by a grant of $3.7 m from the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Training Centre program (ARC ITTC), with supplementary support from New South Wales Trade & Investment’s Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP).