About NDPs

National Diagnostic Protocols (NDPs) are documents containing detailed information about a specific plant pest or group of plant pests to allow accurate taxonomic identification. They provide information on the pest(s), host(s), taxonomic status and the methods to detect and identify it based on the best available information. The newer protocols also include diagnostic information to support surveillance activities. In short, NDPs enable consistent identifications and increased confidence in diagnostic outcomes.

NDPs are an integral component of Australia’s plant biosecurity system. They are developed for use in Australia and endorsed by the Plant Health Committee.


Use of NDPs

NDPs are used by diagnosticians to identify plant pests:

  • during emergency responses to exotic plant pests
  • for general surveillance for pest status
  • for surveillance as part of an official control or eradication program
  • pest diagnostic operations associated with phytosanitary certification
  • found in imported consignments
  • found in an area where it is not known to occur.

Emergency diagnostic protocols

In the event of a pest incursion, an emergency diagnostic protocol can be developed if:

  • there is no NDP
  • an international protocol exists but is not considered suitable by plant health experts in Australia
  • an NDP exists but an alternative protocol has since been developed which is considered more appropriate for diagnosing an pest.

Emergency diagnostic protocols should be sent to SPHD for approval ([email protected]).

Details of the use and approval of emergency diagnostics protocols is in Reference Standard 3 (see below).


NDP development

The development and management of NDPs is overseen by the Subcommittee on Plant Health Diagnostics (SPHD) and administered by the NDP Coordinator and Plant Health Australia.

NDPs are drafted by NPBDN members who work in plant health laboratories, in conjunction with the NDP Coordinator.

The protocols must be developed according to SPHD Reference Standards, which include directions to the author on developing the protocol, review and verification processes and endorsement of the protocol.

The reference standards are:

Reference Standard 1: Glossary of Terms

Reference Standard 2: Development of Diagnostic Protocols – Procedures for Authors

Reference Standard 3 – Guidelines for the Approval Process of National Diagnostic Protocols

Reference Standard 4: Guidelines for Verification and Peer Review Reports

Anyone wishing to develop a NDP should contact the NDP Coordinator to discuss the scope of the protocol and development requirements prior to commencement.


Funding NDP development

SPHD seeks ad hoc funding from different sources to contract laboratories to develop NDPs. When funding is available, proposals are sought from NPBDN members through the website.

If you already have funding and wish to develop an NDP for a specific pest, or want to contract someone to develop a NDP for a specific pest, contact the NDP Coordinator at [email protected]


Accessing NDPs

Individual NDPs are available in the Resources section of this site.

A list of all NDPs is also available on the National Diagnostic Protocols list page.


Further information

Contact the NDP Coordinator at [email protected], if you have any questions or want to discuss developing, validating or reviewing an NDP.