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Proficiency Testing for Regulatory Plant Pathogen Diagnostics - the United States Model

Vessela Mavrodieva: USDA APHIS PPQ S&T CPHST

<div>Regulatory testing of high consequence plant pathogens in the United States (U.S.) is accomplished through a network of university, state, federal and private laboratories. To ensure that molecular diagnostic tests used by these labs are valid for regulatory purposes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) branch established a Proficiency Testing (PT) program administered by the National Plant Protection Laboratory Accreditation Program (NPPLAP). The PT program certifies laboratory analysts to test for the Huanglongbing (citrus greening) pathogens, Plum Pox Virus and/or <em>Phytophthora ramorum </em>using the PT panels designed, produced and validated by the PPQ Beltsville PT group, and distributed to the participants annually. Panel results, submitted on-line, are evaluated by the NPPLAP team. There are over 25 national and two international labs currently participating in one or more PT programs, with over 100 PT certifications issued in the last PT season. The PT program is now established as a useful tool for assuring regulatory bodies and other stakeholders that diagnostic testing is accurate and appropriate for regulatory purposes. Additional benefits of NPPLAP include expanding lab capacity and assistance in the adoption of Quality Management systems for plant diagnostics labs.</div>