Periodic Reporting for period 3 - POnTE (Pest Organisms Threatening Europe)
Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2019-10-31
CaLsol – The activities developed in PonTE allowed to map the geographical distribution of the CaLsol variants in Europe, in the meanwhile finding for the very first time the pathogen on new psyllid vectors as well as on hosts that were not known could be infected (i.e. parsley, fennel, chervil, parsnip and other weeds).
Novel diagnostic assays were designed to rapidly identify important psyllid vectors. These will be important tools in the prevention and detection of possible introductions in the EU of psyllids such as Bactericera cockerelli. A remote-controlled robot was developed to inspect the presence of CaLsol in horticultural crops by remote sensing devices. Researchers disseminated to a wide audience of stakeholders the recourse to integrated pest management approaches, including mechanical tools such as nets, “natural” insecticide products (e.g. kaolin) and technologies such as drip irrigation.
Forestry pathogens – Researchers detected Hf on ahs for the first time in Serbia, and on different non-ash species (i.e. Phillyrea and Chionanthus). The role of ash pericarps, seeds or embryos as a source for the spread of the disease was investigated. Hot-water treatment as a control measure for Hf eradication in seeds was successfully tested. Seeking for tolerant trees, asymptomatic ash seedlings and trees were identified. Phytophthora species damaging conifers and other forest tree species have been identified associated with specific tree declines in Europe. It was shown by these studies that Southeast Asia is the centre of origin of highly invasive wide-host-range Phytophthora species which cause currently devastating forest epidemics in Europe and North America.
POnTE has invested a considerable effort to disseminate the most relevant achievements to the entire community, non-experts, farmers, stakeholders, and the general public, affected or threatened by the spread of the diseases caused by the target pathogens. This was a small yet significant first step to shorten the gap between science and final users and contributed to strengthen the possible exploitation of Project results.
The research developed through POnTE allowed the testing of a large number of ash fruits at the same time. This will allow any diagnostic laboratory to detect H. fraxineus on seed lots efficiently. Furthermore, a double hot-water treatment was developed and tested to eradicate H. fraxineus from seed lots. This is a low cost, low tech method that can easily be scaled up and used by forestry and nursery businesses and at the same time is safe for both the operator and the environment.
The identification of olive cultivars resistant to Xf in Apulia helped mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of the disease. Finding sources of resistance to Xf has allowed the authorities to lift the ban on planting host plants in the infected area, re-building confidence in preserving the olive industry in an area severely affected by the disease.
The protocols for CaLsol detection, validated in the course of the Project, are now implemented in seed companies and used to secure the trade of carrot seeds worldwide. Surveys organized during POnTE Project improved the knowledge regarding the presence of CaLsol in the European and Mediterranean areas and highlighted the co-occurrence with other pathogens. This allowed the choice of CaLsol-free areas for seed productions and increased awareness on the advantage of testing innovative strategies for psyllid vector control, with a direct impact on commercial plantations and smallholder farms.