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Thursday 2 June 2005
Scientific testing using two different techniques indicates that that
the Painted Apple Moth (PAM) trapped at an Otahuhu container facility on 5
May 2005 was a new arrival, and not a remainder of the population in West
Auckland that sparked eradication measures in 2002.
While scientific testing using DNA had previously been difficult
because of technical challenges the recent use of a different gene region
has proved successful. Additionally the use of a forensic tool being
developed at Otago University was recently identified as an alternative
option. The results from both testing regimes indicate that the PAM male
caught on 5 May 2005 was a new arrival.
Biosecurity New Zealand Eradication Programmes Manager Ian Gear said
the latest testing compared the ratios of certain stable isotopes of the
Otahuhu moth with previous captures in Auckland, Australia and with moths
bred in the two colonies established to produce females as part of the
Auckland eradication programme.
"Testing indicated the Otahuhu moth was significantly different to
moths already in New Zealand, and most similar to the Australian moths.
The results also indicated the Otahuhu moth had pupated in a climate
significantly more arid that Auckland. Stable isotopes for the main
Auckland population were reasonably consistent, but were significantly
different to an Australian moth tested," says Ian Gear.
"As well as saying the Otahuhu moth is significantly different, the
results for hydrogen and carbon isotopes in particular gave us some
spectacular indications of the potential of the technique. Carbon isotope
values indicate the diet of the larvae, and there were two clearly
distinct groups. One indicated a diet of foliage; the other indicated the
artificial diet fed to the colonies held in containment. It was possible
to establish that the two colonies shared a similar diet, but had a
different water source.
"It really is a useful technique that has great potential. While the
information needed to indicate a definite point of origin is not available
at this stage, it will be possible to build a database that will just
about tell us the moth's suburb, street address and passport number," says
The forensic stable isotope testing was done by the Dunedin company Iso-trace
New Zealand Limited.
Media contact: Brett Sangster MAF Director Corporate Communications
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