National biodiversity diagnostics

A national biodiversity and biosecurity diagnostics capability

Many people need to diagnose and identify Australian species. Farmers need to be able to identify pest species. Conservationists needs to be able to reliably separate rare species from others that may be more common. Biosecurity officers need to be able to diagnose organisms found in Australian trade shipments, misidentification of which could cause multi-million-dollar disruptions to Australia's trade and agriculture. And many members of the public want to be able to recognise the species in their backyards and seen while travelling. Diagnostics is an important tool for biodiversity.

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And yet, most known, named species of Australian plants, animals and other organisms cannot be easily or reliably diagnosed or identified. The tools for doing so either don't exist or are unavailable to many people who need them.

A national biodiversity diagnostics capability could change all this. It could allow anyone, anywhere, to identify any species in Australia.

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Boyd's Forest Dragon with Usnea. Photo: Tapio Linderhaus

 

A national biodiversity diagnostics capability will integrate and deploy a range of diagnostic and identification tools and procedures. One important capability will be to build a reliable and comprehensive DNA sequence-based identification service based on the sequences in the national biobank and sequence library. Other important tools for identification and diagnostics include artificial-intelligence-based identifications of images, and more traditional image- and trait-based identification keys.

A national biodiversity diagnostics facility will be a key asset for the mission to discover and document all remaining Australian species, because un-named species can only be discovered if named species can be accurately identified. In addition, the national biodiversity diagnostics capability will be used by and provide key services for a wide range of other users across the Australia biodiversity, biosecurity and environmental sectors.

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Nembrothia lineolata laying eggs on a sea-squirt Polycarpa aurata. Photo: By Nick Hobgood - CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4585456