Invasive species threaten native plants and animals, primary industries, and health. They can out-compete native species, introduce parasites and disease-causing pathogens, and they have the potential to cause immense environmental and agricultural damage.
Growing international trade, increasing mobility, and climate change make Aotearoa’s border highly vulnerable to the constant threat of new pests and diseases. Our unique ecosystems add a layer of complexity to our responses to these threats and what’s worse, our vulnerability is heightened as a warming climate allows range-restricted species to expand into previously uninhabitable areas.
Innovative and customised solutions that mitigate the threat of new pests arriving are therefore urgently needed. Predicting the invasive potential of threat species would enable us to better prevent, target, and manage biological invasions.
Using three carefully chosen species as biological models - Brown marmorated stink bug, Queensland fruit fly and Spotted wing Drosophila – the Invasomics project will identify 'omic signatures that underlie successful biological invasion and use those signatures to predict the invasive potential of future invaders posing a high risk to New Zealand.
The project will collect and curate data and then develop a machine-learning framework to characterise the invasiveness of a single high-priority species to test the pilot model. The team will then characterise invasiveness for additional high-priority species to validate the model.
- The development of a comprehensive genome, microbiome, and phenome database for invasive and non-invasive populations and species
- An effective bioinformatics pipeline to generate high-quality 'omic data for key priority biosecurity species
- A validated, generalisable model framework to use as a tool for contributing to the prioritisation of new/other invasive species
- Enhanced knowledge of evolutionary processes in highly important organisms
- Training of postdoctoral researchers and scientists in Aotearoa in key bioinformatic and data modelling skills and unification of the genomic and biosecurity research community.
- Dr Manpreet Dhami (Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research)
- Dr Angela McGaughran (University of Waikato)