Q-bank invasive plants was initially developed in 2007 as an information system for (potentially) invasive plants for the Netherlands. As a result of an EU-funded transnational project on invasive species (RINSE, EUPHRESCO DeCLAIM), the scope has widened to cover the north-western European Atlantic zone.

In 2019, Q-bank Invasive Plants was split into a section containing molecular information and related specimens, managed by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization EPPO, while the remainder, involving species and specimen information, factsheets, border inspection tools and look-alike pages, is now managed by the National Plant Protection Organization of the Netherlands.

The invasive plants module provides detailed species-level information on invasive alien plants with a focus on contaminants in import shipments, including all plant species on the European Union list of concern, associated with EU regulation 1143/2014. This includes fact sheets, look-alike pages, and border inspection tools to facilitate identification during border inspection and verification of interceptions in support of the implementation of the EU regulation regarding invasive alien species. Moreover, links are provided to the interactive identification keys – see screen shot.

The first interactive key built for Q-bank dealt with weed contaminants of potted plants imported into Europe. Some of these weeds show invasive behaviour and proper identification is essential to track accidental introductions rapidly. Identification of weeds in potted plants proved to be difficult because floras (the commonly used identification tools) generally only cover a limited geographical area. Moreover, “traditional” floras seldom include non-native weedy plants. The weeds to be identified originate from many different countries and continents and even include cultivated plants. This means that identification of these weed species using floras is falling short and, for that reason, an inspection tool for identification of these plants had to be developed.

The first species included in a key were based on an inventory of weeds found in bonsai plants imported from China. At a later stage, more species were added as they were intercepted in potted plants imported from other production regions of the world. Currently the key covers 143 species. The way different species have been scored for the different characters can be viewed and assessed by users. The species in the keys are all illustrated by photographs showing the distinguishing characters: a link to species information on Q-bank invasive plants is also provided in the keys. Here users can find more information on the species, a selection of herbarium voucher specimens, as well as a link to molecular data in EPPO-Q-bank. The links between the different databases on invasive plants within Q-bank invasive plants and the interaction with EPPO-Q-bank are shown in the diagram below. 

The keys on invasive plant species currently available are:

  • Weeds in imported potted plants in Europe
  • Invasive terrestrial plants in Europe
  • Invasive aquatic plants
  • Seedlings of invasive plants
  • Seeds of invasive plants
  • Pennisetum cultivars

EPPO-Q-bank holds the molecular information (barcodes) of invasive plants. All sequence data available are curated and linked to a specimen including information on the collections where it can be consulted. These specimens are also included in q-bankplants.eu, that also harbours over nine thousand collections (mostly without molecular data).

EPPO-Q-bank allows the user to “blast” their own sequence data to be able to compare it with the molecular information in the database. Multiple Locus Sequence Analysis (MLSA) is also possible to use two or more loci in a single blast. Results are presented in a tabular format and results from a single blast can also be assessed in a phylogenetic tree.

The species are linked to the EPPO Global Database. The aim of the database is to provide all pest-specific information that has been produced or collected by EPPO. This includes taxonomic position, EPPO code, common names, geographical distribution (with a world map), host plants, categorization (quarantine status), pictures of plants, datasheets, pest risk analyses, and EPPO Standards. Articles of the EPPO Reporting Service, a free monthly newsletter, can also be retrieved from the EPPO Global Database.

The two previous case studies of USDA-ITP and EPPO/Q-Bank activities, focussed on needs for DIT use by their respective biosecurity agencies that are appropriate for the issues arising from their regional and commercial trading situations. In both cases, DITs developed by these agencies are publicly available for other agencies and individuals to use. The next two case studies have a different rationale, which involves international collaborative projects to develop and share data and DITs for two specific groups of pest organisms – weed seeds and thrips.