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Project launched to protect major EU fruit crops

A new EU-funded project has been commissioned to reduce, and prevent damage to fruit crops by pests and pathogens.

The €6 million, 4 year project, called DROPSA, will investigate ways to combat the threats imposed by pests and pathogens. The project will have a specific focus on the insect pest Drosophila suzukii (D.suzukii) commonly known as the spotted winged Drosophila, which can damage soft and stone fruits, and the pathogens Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni and Xanthomonas fragariae, which cause bacterial speck and leaf spot respectively. These particular threats are creating a significant challenge to the European fruit industry, requiring preventative strategies to mitigate the risk. DROPSA will determine the way in which D. suzukii and the other pathogens can be introduced and spread. This information will be used to develop preventative strategies and recommendations to guard against their spread. A thorough understanding of the biology of D.suzukii and the epidemiology of the pathogens will provide a solid platform to create innovative, practical and integrated pest management solutions for effective, sustainable control, which will help growers. The project will be led by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and involves 25 other national and international partners, including world-renowned experts from Europe, North America, New Zealand China and Japan, whose interdisciplinary and complementary work will aim to reduce the risks posed by these threats. Neil Audsley, Insect Endocrinologist at Fera, and Project Leader said “This innovative project brings together the very best expertise in integrated pest management of fruit pests and diseases. Working together, we are confident that the project will lead to ground-breaking solutions to minimise and prevent damage to fruit crops.” Audsley added “The knowledge and information gained will be used to provide practical, cost-effective and sustainable solutions that can be widely implemented by the EU fruit industry.” The project launch meeting, attended by 40 scientists, was held earlier this year at Fera’s conference facilities based in York.

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Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, United Kingdom