`Authorities Destroy Almond Tree Infected With Xylella in Central Italy - Olive Oil Times

Authorities Destroy Almond Tree Infected With Xylella in Central Italy

Feb. 8, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Authorities in cen­tral Italy have given the go-ahead for the removal and burn­ing of an almond tree which was first found infected by Xylella fas­tidiosa last October.

The infec­tion caused alarm since it was the first such out­break in the Lazio region. The infected tree was dis­cov­ered in the Camino munic­i­pal­ity, a sig­nif­i­cant pro­ducer of almonds and olive oil.

There is no con­nec­tion what­so­ever between the infec­tion found in the Canino area and the out­breaks in the Apulia region.- Lazio Regional Agricultural Service, 

Researchers at the local Tuscia University reported that the tree was infected with Xylella fas­tidiosa mul­ti­plex, a sep­a­rate species from Xylella fas­tidiosa pauca, which has infected mil­lions of olive trees in Puglia in recent years.

See Also:New Projects in Puglia Emphasize Early Detection Against Xylella

According to author­i­ties, Xylella fas­tidiosa mul­ti­plex is known for its abil­ity to thrive in almond trees, but analy­ses in the field have shown it does not cause the same kind of dam­age to olive trees.

According to the local news­pa­per, ViterboNews24, local author­i­ties have installed an area of infec­tion” with a diam­e­ter of 50 meters around the almond tree.


A larger, 2.5‑kilometer buffer zone was also acti­vated to mon­i­tor the even­tual spread of the pathogen. In addi­tion, the European Commission was alerted as requested by the European reg­u­la­tions.

The buffer zone is char­ac­ter­ized by a sig­nif­i­cant olive farm­ing tra­di­tion [the region is home to the Canino Protected Designation of Origin]… and by the rel­e­vant devel­op­ment of almond tree grow­ing which in the last three years has expanded to more than 150 hectares,” local author­i­ties said.

The regional phy­tosan­i­tary ser­vice also has con­ducted exten­sive research for symp­toms of Xylella in local plants.

Almost 230 olive trees, 124 almond trees and sev­eral other plants were sam­pled and ana­lyzed, with none found to be infected. According to local experts, the same sub­strain of Xylella fas­tidiosa was found in south­ern Tuscany, which bor­ders Lazio.

According to the local author­i­ties, olive trees have a near to zero risk” of being infected by this Xylella fas­tidiosa sub­species.

There is no con­nec­tion what­so­ever between the infec­tion found in the Canino area and the out­breaks in the Apulia region, where the Xylella fas­tidiosa, sub­species Pauca, Codiro strain, has been known as olive tree killer,” the regional agri­cul­tural ser­vice said.

Almond trees are vul­ner­a­ble as it emerges from the analy­ses con­ducted in Tuscany, where the same sub­species, Multiplex, with the same geno­type (sequence Type ST87) had been found since 2018,” they added. In those areas, where nei­ther olive trees nor almond trees are inten­sively grown, not a sin­gle olive tree has been found infected by the sub­species Multiplex ST87, while some almond trees have been iden­ti­fied both in the infected areas and in the buffer zones.”

According to the European Commission, Spartium junceum, Polygala myr­ti­fo­lia, almond, rose­mary, laven­der, com­mon myr­tle and figs are the plants most com­monly infected with this sub­species of Xylella fas­tidiosa in the Mediterranean region.

The olive oil pro­duc­ers asso­ci­a­tion, Italia Olivicola, said in a note how the new out­break in Lazio is only 30 to 50 kilo­me­ters away from the Argentario Mountains in Tuscany, a region which since 2018 has been under spe­cial care for the erad­i­ca­tion of the same Xylella fas­tidiosa sub­species, ST87 strain, which can attack almond trees but not olive trees.”

The asso­ci­a­tion also noted how Xylella mul­ti­plex had been pre­vi­ously found in the Balearic islands in 2016 and Alicante, Spain, in 2017. After that, the Tuscany out­break was detected, and the sub­species was also iden­ti­fied in Madrid and Porto, Portugal.

According to the European Commission: Xylella fas­tidiosa has the poten­tial of caus­ing in the E.U., an annual pro­duc­tion loss of €5.5 bil­lion, affect­ing 70 per­cent of the E.U. pro­duc­tion value of older olive trees (over 30 years old), and 35 per­cent value of younger ones; 11 per­cent of cit­rus; 13 per­cent of almond and between one to two per­cent of grape pro­duc­tion in a sce­nario of full spread across the entire E.U.”

This would put at risk nearly 300,000 jobs across Europe cur­rently involved in that pro­duc­tion,” the com­mis­sion added. In addi­tion to direct impacts on pro­duc­tion, pests have sig­nif­i­cant indi­rect effects on upstream or down­stream eco­nomic sec­tors.”

In Puglia, the sub­species, pauca, is con­sid­ered respon­si­ble for the loss of five or six mil­lion olive trees, equal to one-fourth of the total in the region, which is the most rel­e­vant olive oil-pro­duc­ing area in the coun­try.

Unaprol, a pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, esti­mated that 5,000 jobs have been lost due to the spread of Xyella fas­tidiosa pauca. However, some local author­i­ties esti­mate many more jobs have been lost due to Xylella: closer to 33,000.



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