Xylella Fastidiosa Active Containment Through a multidisciplinary-Oriented Research Strategy


María M. López
Jose Blasco
Antonio Vicent
Ester Marco-Noales

External Personnel


The Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA) was established in 1868 and it is the leading institution for agricultural research in eastern Spain. IVIA integrates seven research centres: Genomics, Citriculture and Crop Production, Sustainable Agriculture, Postharvest Technology, Livestock Technology, Plant Protection and Biotechnology (PPBC) and Agroengineering (AC), together with seven Experimental Stations, extension services and technology transfer. IVIA participates in international programs funded by the EU and in national and international projects such as POnTE, with public and private funds and is also involved in activities of agricultural research for development. The IVIA-PPBC has a long experience in developing diagnostic tools for bacteria, viruses and fungi affecting plants. Many of these methods are patented and currently implemented in the germoplasm clean stock of the Institute and in certification programs to provide pathogen-free plant propagating material for the industry. Staff members of the IVIA-PPBC participated in international panels for pest risk assessment, standard diagnostic protocols and phytosanitary legislation at EU level. IVIA-AC has participated in several field robots funded by EU programmes, like CITRUS (Eureka), a citrus harvester robot, PATCHWORK (AIR3), for weeding, and a robot for fruit sorting that used sensor fusion techniques for fruit quality assessment (ESPRIT). It has expertise in machine vision, electronics and machinery for plant protection. IVIA has excellent links with the professional sector through cooperation agreements with the Ministry of Agriculture, regional growers associations, Regional Cooperative Organization and other research institutions.

Role in the Project

IVIA coordinates the Working Package 8 of XFACTORS about regional risk assessment. The main objective or this WP is to assess the potential spread of X. fastidosa to other regions that are still free of this pathogen. IVIA will develop mathematical models to evaluate the ability of this pathogen to establish and disseminate under different climatic conditions. These models will simulate different eradication strategies, considering their potential efficacy but also the associated socio-economic impacts. This epidemiological information will help risk managers to establish more efficient phytosanitary regulations for exclusion, containment and eradication of X. fastidiosa. The department of Bacteriology at IVIA will focus on the optimization of detection methods of X. fastidiosa in plant material and vector insects for large scale surveys, and the development of environmentally friendly control methods based on the use of lytic phages for X. fastidiosa, that is, viruses able to specifically attack this pathogen without causing damage to the environment. Moreover, courses on detection methods of X. fastidiosa, according to EPPO protocol, will be imparted to Plant Health Services of the different Spanish regions. Finally, the Centro de Agroingeniería (Agricultural Engineering Center) of IVIA will develop optical systems for the detection of infected trees before they present external symptoms of the disease. The problem will be addressed at different scales, initially performing leaf-level measurements in the laboratory to test the sensitivity of the equipment to detect low levels of X. fastidiosa infection. Subsequently, the findings will progressively be transferred to the field to detect the disease as early as possible, either by hand-held devices or by incorporating them into an agricultural vehicle that will be developed for this project. The optical sensors to be used include high resolution cameras (color, near infrared and NDVI), as well as thermal and multispectral cameras.