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Is seed a pathway for pests?
 - An update of the ISTA annotated list of seed-borne diseases  

Why is the list being revisited?

As defined in the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures issue on the international movement of seeds (ISPM38), a seed-borne pest is carried by seeds externally or internally that may or may not be transmitted to plants growing from the seeds, causing their infestation. A seed-transmitted pest is a seed-borne pest that is transmitted via seeds directly to plants growing from these seeds, causing their infestation. Seed can be a pathway for the introduction and dissemination of pests in a new geographic area through seed trade. Safeguarding seed health is critical in avoiding the spread of pests. It is of crucial importance to provide national plant protection organisations (NPPOs) with an updated, scientifically-evidenced list of seed-associated pests. Phytosanitary requirements for the import of seed lots, as defined by NPPOs, have mostly been supported by the book An Annotated List of Seed-borne Diseases. However, the 4th and last edition published by ISTA in 1990 is outdated. Curating this reference was therefore necessary.

What does the ISTA Reference Pest List contain?

At ISTA, the Seed Health Committee (SHC) is focusing on on seed-borne pests (bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, viruses, nematodes) in more than 40 non-vegetable species from 21 botanical families of spermatophytes (seed plants), including cereals, legumes, oleaginous crops, forest trees and fruit trees. It also includes a list of pests that were included in the last version of the Annotated list of seed-borne diseases, but that lack evidence of seed-borne status in the scientific literature. These pests will be regularly checked for information on their ability to be seedborne. The ISTA Reference Pest List will be updated regularly each time a list will be finalised.  

Updated lists (11 crops): Asteraceae (sunflower), Brassicaceae (rapeseed), Fabaceae (alfalfa, soybean), Malvaceae (cotton), Poaceae (barley, oat, rice, sorghum, triticale, wheat). 

Ongoing investigations: Anacardiaceae (pistachio nut), Annonaceae (custard apple), Araucariaceae (Araucaria spp.), Caricaceae (papaya), Cupressaceae (red cedar, white cedar), Fabaceae (black wattle, chickpea, lentil, lupin, peanut, red sandalwood), Fagaceae (chestnut, oak), Ginkgoaceae (ginkgo), Juglandaceae (walnut), Lythraceae (pomegranate), Myrtaceae (eucalyptus), Pinaceae (douglas fir, cedar, fir, Pinus spp., spruce), Rosaceae (almond, apple, cherry, peach, pear, plum), Rubiaceae (coffee), Rutaceae (Citrus spp.), Salicaceae (poplar), Sapindaceae (maple).  

For your information, ISF has set up a regulated pest list database for vegetable species, which can be found here

Who are the contributors?

Funding: ISTA (ISTA Reference Pest List project).

: Valérie GRIMAULT (Chair of the ISTA SHC; Head of the Phytopathology Laboratory, Seed Testing Station, GEVES, France) and Nicolas DENANCÉ (Seed Testing Station, GEVES, France). 

Selection and review of articles: some were initially selected by Christine HENRY and Alex JEBB (FERA, UK), Terry AVELING, Nicole JOUBERT, Renaan THOMPSON, Edgar MANGWENDE and Gloria MUKWIRIMBA (University of Pretoria, South Africa). Since 2018, scientific literature is being screened by Nicolas DENANCÉ. He is coordinating international experts, with recognized skills in seed pathology and coming from examination offices, seed companies and academic research laboratories. They are being involved in the evaluation of the selected articles.

Validation of the lists: The ISTA SHC members check and validate the list content prior to its publication.  

Contact: If you have comments on the conclusions or new information to offer, please contact ISTA. Readers are encouraged to subscribe to ISTA newsletter to stay tuned on further updates.


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