Xylella Fastidiosa Active Containment Through a multidisciplinary-Oriented Research Strategy


European research on Xylella fastidiosa
XF-ACTORS is a research project to improve prevention, early detection and control of Xylella fastidiosa through the establishment of a multidisciplinary research program. XF-ACTORS is a four-year project, started on November 1st, 2016 and funded by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 program.


Xylella fastidiosa is one of the most dangerous plant bacteria worldwide, causing a variety of diseases, with huge impact for agriculture, and affecting cultivated plants of high economic value (e.g. olive trees, stone fruits – plums, almonds, cherries) or wide-spread ornamental plants (e.g. myrtle-leaf milkwort, oleander).


Currently, Xylella fastidiosa has been detected in the European Union into:


  • Italy, where it is causing severe damage to olive crops in the Apulia region.
  • France, where so far it is limited to ornamental plants and some landscape trees in Corse and in the PACA region
  • Spain, where the bacterium has been detected in the Balearic Islands and, more recently, in mainland Spain in the province of Alicante. In Spain the situation appears to be complex, with the occurrence of strains belonging to different subspecies, including the subsp. fastidiosa known to be associated to the Pierce’s disease.


The overall goal of the research program is to develop scientific knowledge on the pathogenicity, transmissibility and host susceptibility to the Xf strains recovered in the EU outbreaks, toward the implementation of tools for pest risk assessment, for prevention and reduction of the impact of the Xylella-induced diseases. The research actions are complementary to those carried out under the Project POnTE (https://www.ponteproject.eu/), thus ensuring effective cooperation and continuity with currently ongoing efforts.


Critical information on the pathogen biology, epidemiological traits and hosts under threat have been developed during the first year of the project, with the valuable guidance of the American research groups with long-established research. Similarly, research on the vector(s) is disclosing some preliminary information that will support the development of effective and sustainable vector control strategies.


The project workplan includes significant research investigations for the identification of olive genetic resources resistant to the bacterial infections, as well as testing the effectiveness of selected bio-molecules and antagonists for the control of the bacterial infections in plants. Early detection of the infections represents a pillar task of the project, and promising results have been gathered by combining remote sensing approach with inspections and measurements at field and tree level, integrated with innovative tools for on-site detection.


The main achievements obtained up to November 2017 in the research on the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa by POnTE and XF-ACTORS have been resumed in a technical report available in English, Italian and Spanish. (Versions in other languages are under preparation). The report is available for free download: http://bit.ly/2psIckE


XF-ACTORS is the acronym for “Xylella Fastidiosa Active Containment Through a multidisciplinary-Oriented Research Strategy” funded by the Horizon 2020 program with Grant Agreement Number 727987.