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Turning to DNA in the fight against pests

Australian farmers will have more ‘ammo’ in the fight against pest animals thanks to a suite of projects launched by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

The 21 new research, development and extension projects will look at better ways of preventing, detecting and managing pest animals, including through the use of DNA.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Government was contributing $20 million to the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) to 2022 to help fund the projects.

“Farmers face huge costs, productivity losses and the spread of diseases at the hands of pests and weeds and keep fighting to stop them in their tracks,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The 21 projects target pest animals in particular and will look at new management tools, better strategic decision making as well as community engagement and education.

“One project worth $1.84 million will look at building a machine to test samples of water to identify traces of pest animal DNA in rapid time out in the field. This technology would help track down pests hiding below the surface like the Asian black-spined toad and red-eared slider turtle.

“A $7.5 million project will investigate how effective viruses are in managing pest rabbits. This will help inform the timing of virus release for maximum results and ensure we continue to get value out of the calicivirus virus.

“Another project worth $4.2 million will look at how to cost effectively manage deer by looking at their behaviour. Deer are an emerging threat in Australia and we need to understand their role in spreading diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

“CISS is also developing a 10-year weeds RD&E investment plan to identify the priority areas in our war against weeds.”

CISS is the successor of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA CRC), which managed collaborative RD&E for the national release of the RHDV1 K5 rabbit biocontrol agent and the development of environmental DNA-based detection of pest fish.

For more information on CISS, visit

Source: Australian Government

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