The International Plant Sentinel Network: an update on phase 2.
Invasive plant pests and pathogens pose a considerable threat to plant health worldwide. With increasing globalization of trade in plants and plant material, and the effects of climate change, this threat is predicted to continue to rise. In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of these harmful invasive organisms which cause large-scale environmental and economic damage. A significant issue in managing this threat is predicting which organisms will pose a threat in the future. Sentinel plants are individuals found outside their native ranges that can be surveyed for damage by organisms they would not otherwise encounter. Monitoring plant sentinels can build knowledge and understanding of pest/host relationships to support the development of management plans and risk assessments. Botanic gardens and arboreta, whose collections are estimated to include 30-40 per cent of all known plant species, many of which are exotic, are unique and under-utilized resources that can support sentinel research. The International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) consists of botanic gardens and arboreta, National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) and plant health scientists who collaborate to provide an early-warning system for new and emerging plant pests and pathogens. Members provide scientific evidence to NPPOs to inform plant health activities and thus help safeguard susceptible plant species. In the UK, the IPSN conducts research activities prioritized by a Research and Development committee and preliminary findings of recent research activities are outlined in this paper. The IPSN also focuses on increasing knowledge and awareness, seeking best practice, developing standardized approaches and providing training materials and methodologies for monitoring and surveying to enable gardens to contribute to sentinel research. Through multi-disciplinary collaboration and information sharing the IPSN aims to reduce the risk that alien invasive pests and pathogens pose to global plant health.