The Queensland Fruity Fly (Qfly) is Australia’s most difficult and costly biosecurity challenge. Associate Professor Phil Taylor is working on an answer, it’s called Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). By introducing sterile flies into the environment these flies mate with the wild population and ensure that the wild population can’t reproduce.
“For generations, Australia has relied on synthetic insecticides to protect crops, but these are now banned for many uses. Environmentally benign alternatives are needed urgently” said Phil.
Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) is focusing on the management of Qfly and has co-invested $20.5 million with Macquarie in order to solve the problem – the SITplus consortium. Additionally, the Australian Research Council (ARC) granted $3.7 million in funding as part of the Industrial Transformation Research Program. Macquarie is at the centre of real-world solutions and industry-partnership training for the next generation of Australian biosecurity experts.
The SITplus consortium brings together HIA, Macquarie, Primary Undistries and Regions SA, Biosecurity SA, the South Australian Research and Development Institute, the CSIRO Health and Biosecuity Flagship, Plant and Food Research Australia, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries. This consortium will lead transformational change and alleviate the Qfly threat that hangs over $9 billion of Australian crops annually.
“The industry is currently in crisis from fruit flies,” said Phil, “they are the world’s most devastating pests of fruit and vegetable crops.”