Xylella Fastidiosa Active Containment Through a multidisciplinary-Oriented Research Strategy

The main achievements obtained up to date in the research on the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa by POnTE and XF-ACTORS – projects funded by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 programme – have been resumed in a technical report that summarizes the findings presented during the European conference on Xylella fastidiosa and the annual meetings of the projects, held in November 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

 English version Italian version Spanish version

A document including the main results of the research on Xylella fastidiosa carried out so far by the H2020 EU-funded projects POnTE and XF-ACTORS, international consortia composed by prominent European research centres (CNR, INRA, ANSES, CSIC, IVIA, JRC, CIHEAM, etc…), is now available for free download on the websites of the two projects.

The document resumes the contributions brought by the projects’ researchers at the “European conference on Xylella fastidiosa”, held in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) last November 2017, and co-organized by EFSA, the University of the Balearic Islands, the Euphresco network, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission (DG RTD) and the two research projects POnTE and XF-ACTORS.

The conference was organized in 8 sessions, covering all aspects related to the bacterium, and was attended by more than 260 participants from 20 EU and 14 non-EU countries among researchers, national authorities and international organizations, EFSA and EU officials, stakeholders, the private sector and the press. The conference was followed by the annual meetings of the projects, attended by project members and stakeholders whose business is affected by the spread of X. fastidiosa.

Entitled “European research on Xylella fastidiosa”, this document provides a snapshot of the current EU research programs and an update of the most relevant results addressing this emerging pathogen accomplished by both projects. The document reports on the research tasks investigating multiple aspects of the diseases caused by X. fastidiosa: the genetic and biology of the pathogen, the vector(s), the host plants, the spread patterns, diagnosis and early detection, modelling and tools for risk assessment.

The major outcomes presented are:

  • Full genomes (draft and/or complete genomes) have been obtained for several EU isolates, disclosing their genetic relatedness and the putative pathway(s) and event(s) of introduction in EU.
  • Pathogenicity of selected EU strains has been demonstrated on the main affected hosts in EU: Koch’s postulates have been fulfilled on olives, oleander and myrtle-leaf milkwort plants (either in Italy or France).
  • Networking and efforts for the harmonization of the diagnostic tests along with the results of several EU interlaboratory validations allowed to define a common panel of recommended methods for reliable and sensitive detection of the bacterium in different hosts.
  • Remote sensing approaches were successfully implemented for the early identification of Xylella-infected trees, at the pre-visual stage when the symptoms are not yet evident, a critical requirement for effective and timely surveillance programs.
  • Research on EU candidate vectors, confirmed the role of spumarius and of two additional species, Philaenus italosignus and Neophilaenus campestris, in the transmission of the bacterial strains causing the epidemics in Apulia (southern Italy).
  • Identification of traits of resistance to Xylella in olives opens for new promising research topics and breeding programs for long-term disease management strategies.
  • Field-experiments for testing formulations to control the bacterium in the host plants and to control the vector populations in olive groves, while providing some promising indications, confirmed the relevant challenges for developing effective treatments for the therapy of infected plants.
  • Up to date molecular research approaches are also being explored towards the development of sustainable biocontrol strategies to restrain bacterial multiplication and virulence in the host plants.
  • Different complementary methodologies are in place to feed provisional models and establish more effective mechanisms and tools for risk assessment and prevention.
  • Effective collaborations have been established with farmers and nurserymen for the implementation of the project workplan.
  • A crosstalk (dialogue) has been established with relevant stakeholders and Authorities (Policymakers, Phytosanitary Agencies) to support the transfer of knowledge and exchange of views for the implementation of integrated control strategies.

The complete document is currently available in English, Italian and Spanish.
Other languages (Spanish, French, Greek) are under preparation and will be issued in the next months.

The project XF-ACTORS (727987) is a 4-year multi-actor project started in November 2016 and entirely dedicated to research on Xylella fastidiosa. The consortium gathers an international consortium of 29 partners from all over the world, and integrates the expertise on different research fields (plant pathology, entomology, modelling, risk assessment, social sciences) with the active involvement of farmers and nurserymen. http://www.xfactorsproject.eu

The project POnTE (635646) is a 4-year multi-actor project, started in November, 2015, tackling alien pests threating EU agriculture and forests. The target pathogens/pests are Xylella fastidiosa and its vectors, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum and psyllids, Phytophthora spp. and Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. affecting forest trees. www.ponteproject.eu