Plant pests: three new European reference mandates for the ANSES Plant Health Laboratory

Three units of the Plant Health Laboratory (LSV) have been appointed European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) for plant pests. The scope of the three mandates obtained concerns insects and mites, nematodes, and fungi and oomycota. With these three new European reference mandates, the ANSES LSV is consolidating its long-standing commitment to the control of pests regulated at European and global levels. These are actually the first plant pest mandates established for Europe, and come into force on 1 August 2019.

Plants can be affected by various pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and nematodes), animal pests such as insects and mites, or invasive plants, all of which threaten both crops and various plant species found in the environment. In order to guard against the introduction and spread of harmful organisms in Europe, the regulations provide for mandatory control measures against "quarantine" organisms depending on the hazard level they represent for the different plant species. National and European Reference Laboratories are key players in the surveillance and prevention of these pests, guaranteeing the official analytical methods used for early detection and diagnosis of emerging pests in particular.

This is the background against which three units of the ANSES LSV (Entomology and Invasive Plants in Montpellier, Nematology in Rennes, and Mycology in Nancy) have been appointed as the first EURLs for insects and mites, nematodes, and fungi and oomycota respectively. ANSES will be heading up a consortium for two of these mandates, as the mission will be shared with the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) for insects and mites, and with the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO, Belgium) for nematodes.

Recognition of expertise in plant health reference activitiesThis European appointment consolidates the LSV's commitment to plant health and in particular to the control of regulated pests. As the National Reference Laboratory for quarantine plant pathogens (bacteria, viruses, phytoplasmas, nematodes, insects and mites, fungi), it develops and implements analytical methods to detect and identify the various plant pests subject to EU regulations.

This know-how regarding reference activities enables it to be highly responsive in the event of a crisis, and to exercise its key skills in the field of epidemiological surveillance. The laboratory is therefore able to provide the expertise and scientific support needed to control parasites and pests that threaten plant health.

This new European mission is in line with the reference activities already carried out at national level. It will involve developing, updating and disseminating reliable detection and identification methods via the European NRL network to support the implementation of effective control measures for plant protection.

The ANSES Plant Health Laboratory addresses all the biological risks to plant health. It is also involved in the detection of genetically modified organisms, the determination of natural enemies and vectors of harmful organisms, as well as the quarantine of plants introduced under import regulation waivers. Its activities are conducted on six specialised sites (Angers, Clermont-Ferrand, Montpellier, Nancy, Rennes, and Saint-Pierre on Reunion Island). The LSV also jointly leads the French plant health network (RFSV) and participates in numerous collaborative research and method development projects at European and international levels. As the National Reference Laboratory for analyses on all these plant pests, it coordinates a network of 20 laboratories accredited by the French Ministry of Agriculture.

The Plant Health Laboratory: key figures

  • 7 opinions or reports issued in 2018 and 6 ongoing requests initiated in 2018
  • 20 alert and warning signal forms published in 2018
  • 13 contractual collaborative scientific projects in 2018
  • 8 theses under way in 2018