EC announces funds to boost research into Xylella fastidiosa

20 November 2015  •  Author(s): Victoria White

The European Commission is making funds available to boost research into Xylella fastidiosa.

Xylella fastidiosa

Since October 2013, a strain of this bacterium is spreading in Apulia (Italy) in its ancient olive groves. The region provides much of the country’s olive oil exports to the world. The potential consequences of Xylella fastidiosa are major and could result in significant yield losses and costly control measures not just in olive trees but also in other economically important crops such as grapes, citrus fruits, stone fruits and almonds. 

Speaking in Brussels, Annette Schneegans, from the Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture, urged participants to apply for grants of up to €7 million to carry out work that can increase knowledge of this dangerous plant pest.

Her call came at the end of a two-day workshop – hosted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) at the request of the European Commission – that explored research needs and priorities for X. fastidiosa.

Franck Berthe, head of EFSA’s Animal and Plant Health Unit, said he hoped the workshop would be the first step towards greater sharing and coordination of research and data on X. fastidiosa across the EU and beyond.

Need for global cooperation in the fight against Xylella fastidiosa

“A recurring theme in the various meetings was not only the urgent need for new research but also the need for multi-actor, global cooperation in the fight against Xylella. With this new funding stream from the Commission, we hope to make important strides together over the coming months and years,” he said.

“EFSA plans to organise more gatherings of this kind, perhaps on an annual basis, and is exploring other ways in which we can act as a facilitator for research activities related to Xylella.”

More than 100 specialists from around the world attended the workshop, where they heard keynote speakers outline the situation in the EU and North and South America as well as the latest thinking on how to control X. fastidiosa. They then took part in four break-out sessions looking at surveillance and detection; the identity, biology, epidemiology and control of vectors; identification of the host range, breeding for resistance and certification of host plants; and the biology, genetics and control of the pathogen.

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