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
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.
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.
The Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC), and its predecessor the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB) were established to strengthen the scientific capacity supporting plant biosecurity in Australia. The PBCRC has funded projects along four themes: Early Warning; Effective Detection and Response Safeguarding Trade; and Secure Future. Project proposals were developed by the participants of the PBCRC and selected by its Science Committee.
In total, the combined CRCNPB and PBCRC invested in 20 fruit fly specific projects, with a combined project value of nearly $20 million.