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Xylella Fastidiosa Active Containment Through a multidisciplinary-Oriented Research Strategy

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - XF-ACTORS (Xylella Fastidiosa Active Containment Through a multidisciplinary-Oriented Research Strategy)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

XF-ACTORS is the first international research project in Europe entirely devoted to develop a multidisciplinary research program on the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The consortium involves 29 Partners and Research Institutions, including 4 non-European research centers from USA, Brazil, Costa Rica and Taiwan, countries where the pathogen is known to be present since a long time.
The project aims to address the urgent need to improve prevention strategies, early detection and control of Xylella fastidiosa in Europe. The overall objective is to develop a global strategy for the integrated management of serious diseases associated with Xylella fastidiosa, with the intention of preventing its further spread or introduction in Xf-free areas, and to mitigate the economic, environmental and social impacts.
The knowledge generated by XF-ACTORS research aims to improve capacity of farmers to manage the disease and prevent further economic losses in crops; enhance capacity and competence of plant health authorities to strengthen the EU plant health regime; generate positive impact towards the improvement of EU prevention measures (legislative provisions, technical procedures, means of disease control, etc.).
The stakeholders’ interests are an important driver of XF-ACTORS. Therefore, a Stakeholder Board has been settled, with the participation of representatives of international and national Plant Protection and quarantine services, policy makers at the EU level, growers, producers and nurserymen organizations and extension services.
The work carried out during the 2nd Reporting Period contributed to:
- Extend the knowledge on EU and non-EU bacterial strains (WP2): several draft genomes have been produced, enlarging the public available database and allowing for important phylogenetic analyses.
- Set the first EU database on the records of the surveys for xylem-feeders in different EU agro-ecosystems (WP5);
- Gather important molecular information on the host adaptation and host response to infections (WP2-WP6).
- Produced the first dataset of information regarding the microbiome characterizing the xylem tissues of olives under different conditions (Xf-infected vs non-infected) (WP6).
- Produced the first dataset of information regarding the endosymbionts of the predominant EU vector Philaenus spumarius (WP5).
- Implementation of the surveillance strategies by exploiting remote sensing approaches (i.e. extending the technology to new crop species/area, and by using satellite data) (WP3).
- Adapting conventional diagnostic protocols to test large lots of samples (WP4).
- Gather important insights on the mechanisms of feeding and transmission in spittlebugs (the predominant vector in Europe) (WP5).
- Data on the efficacy of different tools for the control of the bacterium in the plant and for reducing the vector populations (WP6 and WP7).
- Integrate monitoring data from the outbreaks and biological data to feed models that were made available to EFSA and other interested parties (WP8).
- Strengthen networking and cooperations among EU laboratories involved in Plant Health and pathogen diagnosis (WP4 and WP9).
- Engage fruitful discussion and exchange of views with stakeholders from different countries and from different sectors (inspectors, policy makers, farm advisories, olive oil producers, growers, nurserymen) (WP8, WP9 and WP10).
- Engage frutitful discussion and exchange of views with stakeholders from different countries and from different sectors (inspectors, policy makers, farm advisories, olive oil producers, growers, nurserymen) (WP9 and WP10).
"Scientific advances have made on different aspects of the complex Xylella.-pathosistem:
- Bacterium: the largest dataset of genome sequences has been developed, offering a uniqe tool for answering to may biological and epidemiological questions based through the analyses of the phylogenetic relashionships and population structures. As an example of the preliminary information retrieved from the genomic work: dating the introduction of the bacterium in some of the major EU outbreaks and clarifying the pathway/route of introduction of the bacterium.
- Host plants: molecular pathways underlinign the host response are starting to be deciphered, disclosing several similarities among species, i.e. direct common efforts towards improving plant resistance and resilience.
- Vector: the comphrensive program of research allowed to gather multifaced information on the ecological behavious and insights into the transmission mechanisms.
- Environment: maps for climatic suitability have been produced at subspecies level and ""in vivo"" experiments have been carried out to define the optimal conditions for the growth and persistence of the pathogen in a given environment.
- Means of control: testing of different formulations/tools/strategies, while confirmed the difficulties to combact the bacterium, disclose some important informations on possible methods to reduce and attenuate the impact and the rate of bacterial spread."
Distribution map of X. fastidiosa
Infected olive tree with caged branches for insect acquisition
Xylem-feeders collected in Apulia (southern Italy)