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Inhalt: National Reference Laboratory for harmful organisms in plants

JKI knowledge portal

The information portal for the plant protection services of the German federal states

The National Reference Laboratory at the Julius Kühn Institute (NRL-JKI) supports the laboratories of the plant protection services of the German federal states in the diagnosis of harmful organisms and makes an important contribution to EU-wide plant health.

In this context, the National Reference Laboratory focuses on harmful organisms that have not yet emerged or are not yet widespread in the EU territory and whose establishment or spread would have serious economic, social or ecological consequences. The aim is to identify such harmful organisms quickly and unambiguously and to initiate appropriate measures to protect (cultivated) plants in the EU member states.

The so-called quarantine pests are divided into two groups:

  • Known and already regulated harmful organisms
  • Newly emerging harmful organisms for which the damage potential in Germany could not yet be conclusively assessed.

Who must be notified first?

If a quarantine pest is suspected, the first point of contact is the plant protection service of the federal state where the organism was found. The diagnostic laboratories of the plant protection services perform routine diagnostics (official controls) and take samples in suspected cases. The JKI knowledge portal Plant Health publishes a list of the competent federal state authorities and their contact details.

Coordination and support: when does the Julius Kühn Institute come into play?

If a quarantine pest or a completely new pest is discovered during official controls, or if no clear result could be obtained, the NRL-JKI comes into play. On behalf of the federal state authorities, the NRL-JKI performs an independent examination and confirms (or refutes) the findings of the federal state authority.

The NRL-JKI comprises 14 diagnostic laboratories specialized in different harmful organisms. The challenge for the responsible scientists when new pests appear is to have a suitable detection method available that can quickly and unambiguously identify the organism.

In addition, the NRL is responsible for ensuring that the diagnostic methods used jointly by the federal and federal state authorities are continuously harmonized and improved and accredited in accordance with the EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard, which is mandatory in plant protection diagnostics. Compliance with the standard and changes in the type and number of diagnostic procedures are reviewed at regular intervals by Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS), the national accreditation body of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Moreover,  the NRL-JKI conducts training courses and workshops for the staff of official laboratories, provides reference material or names suppliers of reference material, and organizes proficiency testing for organism-specific test methods.

Cooperation within the European Union

The NRL-JKI works closely with the European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) for plant health. JKI staff participates in trainings, workshops and proficiency tests organized by the EURL. The NRL-JKI functions as an interface between the official laboratories of the federal states and the EURL and, among other things, distributes the information provided by the EURL to the competent authorities and federal state laboratories in Germany.