March 28, 2018.
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The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) is a plant endophyte native to the Americas that causes worldwide concern. Xf has been recently detected in several regions outside its natural range including Europe. In that context, accurate estimates of its response to climate change are required to design cost-efficient and environment-friendly control strategies. In the present study, we collected data documenting the native and invaded ranges of the three main subspecies of Xf: fastidiosa, pauca and multiplex, as well as two strains of Xf subsp. multiplex recently detected in southern France (ST6 and ST7). We fitted bioclimatic species distribution models (SDMs) to forecast their potential geographic range and impact in Europe under current and future climate conditions. According to model predictions, the geographical range of Xf as presently reported in Europe is small compared to the large extent of suitable areas. The European regions most threatened by Xf encompass the Mediterranean coastal areas of Spain, Greece, Italy and France, the Atlantic coastal areas of France, Portugal and Spain as well as the southwestern regions of Spain and lowlands in southern Italy. Potential distribution of the different subspecies / strains are contrasted but all are predicted to increase by 2050, which could threaten several of the most economically important wine-, olive- and fruit-producing regions of Europe, warranting the design of control strategies. Bioclimatic models also predict that the subspecies multiplex might represent a threat to most of Europe under current and future climate conditions. These results may serve as a basis for future design of a spatially informed European-scale integrated management strategy, including early detection surveys in plants and insect vectors, quarantine measures as well as agricultural practices.