Fruit fly research

A strong investment in research, development and extension (RD&E) is fundamental to establishing and improving controls against fruit flies and other horticultural pests. Australia is fortunate to have a strong network of researchers and scientists working on this challenge. These experts are based in universities, government agencies, private companies, and also includes interested individuals and citizen scientists.

The diversity of the RD&E capacity, both in the area of specialisation and geographic location is a further strength for Australia. It is part of a system that allows Australia researchers to understand how fruit flies behave in different locations and with access to different crops. It also allows a range of pest management approaches to be studied, from pest free areas and areas of low pest prevalence, through to places where fruit flies are more prevalent. It also means that there is a strong presence and capacity in areas where exotic fruit flies could reach Australia.

National Fruit Fly RD&E Plan­­

The Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre developed the National Fruit Fly Research, Development and Extension Plan. The RD&E Plan was delivered in 2015 and sought to provide a basis for a long-term view of fruit fly RD&E within Australia to support fruit fly affected industries. The RD&E Plan clarified the outcomes required by various stakeholders and remains an important step in promoting collaboration on fruit fly RD&E.

National Fruit Fly RD&E Plan

Fruit fly research groups across Australia

Over a dozen research groups within Australia are actively working on fruit flies. These include universities such as Charles Darwin University, Griffith University, Macquarie Univeristy, Murdoch University, the Queensland University of Technology, and the University of Western Sydney. Government agencies in all states also maintain a research and development capacity.

Amongst these groups there are also collaborative endeavours, such as the Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation and the SITplus partnership.

Funding and coordinating research

While a substantial investment into fruit fly research is directly funded through government agencies, by private companies, and through PhD scholarships, two other groups invest heavily in fruit fly related activities.

Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) is the grower owned research and development corporation (RDC) for Australia’s horticultural industries. Through this role, Hort Innovation receives industry levies that are invested into a range of sector specific research, development and marketing activities. As part of this process, the Australian Government also provides matching funding or co-contributions.

Hort Innovation has two main funding processes for fruit fly activities, the R&D levy and the co-investment fund. Through the R&D levy, industry specific projects are funded in line with the needs and priorities identified by the contributing industry. These projects have a focus on delivery and 1 to 5 year duration.

The co-investment fund looks at longer term and strategic research activities that provide benefits across all of horticulture or have national benefits. Activities with cross-industry benefits, such as the development of the sterile insect technique for Queensland fruit fly through the SITplus partnership is an example of this fund.


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