Live plant material imported into Australia from other countries can introduce exotic pests and diseases that may be harmful to our environment, agriculture and economy. Quarantine regulations are in place to help protect against this risk.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Plant Quarantine unit is the ‘hub’ of quarantine-related activity at the Waite Campus, providing plant quarantine services to industry and the research community.

Dr Pauline Glocke (pictured right) manages the facility along with SARDI plant pathologist Barbara Hall and technician Deborah Blackman.

“We provide a disease screening service for plant material imported from overseas,” Pauline explained. “We have the capacity to do on-site screening from seeds through to the whole plant and can do heat treatments if needed as well”.

The service is mainly used by plant breeding researchers but they can also take nursery stock plants for industry clients from outside the Waite campus.

For most imported material, the process generally involves receiving a box of seed and exposing it to the appropriate treatments in the lab (eg, fungicide or hot water depending on the import permit conditions and where it has been imported from). The seed is then grown under quarantine conditions in one of three on-site isolation greenhouses and monitored closely for exotic diseases throughout its lifecycle.

If the plants pass all their inspections and no problems are detected, the seed is then harvested from these plants and can be released to the researcher or client. Quarantined plant material is then destroyed by high heat incineration, autoclave or steam sterilisation.

“The whole process can take up to five or six months, depending on the particular plant species and season,” Pauline explained.

“Different seed-borne diseases – mostly viruses or fungi – can manifest at different times of the host plant’s growth cycle so it is important to monitor the plant right through the cycle.”

Pauline can help anyone across the Waite campus with any biosecurity compliance issues they may have. If you have any questions about import or export processes, permits, inspections, audits etc, get in touch and she will be happy to provide advice.

When not looking after the quarantine plants, logging data or doing the necessary paperwork, Pauline also provides guest lectures on the quarantine requirements, processes and facilities on campus for third year undergraduate students here at Waite. She also enjoys her fruit & vegetable and native gardens at home!


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