`Authorities in Puglia Identify New Outbreak of Xylella Fastidiosa - Olive Oil Times

Authorities in Puglia Identify New Outbreak of Xylella Fastidiosa

By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 9, 2022 16:37 UTC

A new sig­nif­i­cant out­break of Xylella fas­tidiosa in the south­ern Italian region of Puglia has prompted local author­i­ties to declare new infec­tion and con­tain­ment zones in the area.

One hun­dred nine­teen newly infected olive trees have been iden­ti­fied on the east­ern coast of Puglia, south of Bari.

The National Research Council’s local labs have already con­firmed the pres­ence of Xylella fas­tidiosa pauca bac­te­ria, which cause the deadly Olive Quick Decline Syndrome. The dis­ease has killed hun­dreds of thou­sands of trees in the region over the past decade.

See Also:Growers in Xylella-Ravaged Puglia Assess a Delicate Harvest

As a result, phy­tosan­i­tary author­i­ties in Puglia have for­mally iden­ti­fied Valle d’Itria as a new red zone. The affected area includes Monopoli, Polignano, Alberobello and part of Castellana Grotte.

The trees were iden­ti­fied by the wide­spread Xylella-mon­i­tor­ing scheme enacted by the author­i­ties with the help of local agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions and vol­un­teers.

The trees found to be infected by the pathogen will be destroyed fol­low­ing European erad­i­ca­tion and con­tain­ment pro­to­col. The mea­sures require any olive tree located within a 50-meter radius of the infected plant to be destroyed.

Since Xylella fas­tidiosa can repli­cate and infect hun­dreds of plant species, the cur­rent pro­to­col also requires exten­sive mon­i­tor­ing of all veg­e­ta­tion and removal of any poten­tial source of fur­ther infec­tion.

The new red zone will be sur­rounded by a five-kilo­me­ter buffer zone, where the exist­ing veg­e­ta­tion also will be mon­i­tored.

While these mea­sures have been adopted in the last few years to con­tain the dis­ease’s spread, Xylella fas­tidiosa con­tin­ues to infect trees in new areas.

Since June, more than 1,000 olive trees have been destroyed to con­tain the infec­tion. Since Xylella fas­tidiosa was first dis­cov­ered in the region nearly 10 years ago, it has spread to approx­i­mately 8,000 square kilo­me­ters, about 40 per­cent of Puglia.

In 2022, 240 newly infected olive trees were iden­ti­fied, sig­nal­ing the abil­ity of the infec­tion to evade cur­rent mon­i­tor­ing and con­tain­ment strate­gies.

One of the dri­vers of the new out­breaks is the bac­te­ri­a’s abil­ity to infect a range of plants. A few hours after estab­lish­ing the new red zone, local researchers iden­ti­fied Xylella fas­tidiosa in a pre­vi­ously unknown host: Prunus mahaleb.

Overall, nearly 600 known plant species are sus­cep­ti­ble to infec­tion by Xylella fas­tidiosa.

Donato Boscia, a sci­en­tist at the National Research Council, said Prunus mahaleb, the cherry root­stock widely used in Puglia, is the 36th host plant species iden­ti­fied in the region.

Savino Muraglia, pres­i­dent of Coldiretti Puglia, an agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tion, described the dis­cov­ery as a sig­nif­i­cant set­back for local olive farm­ers.

“[It is] a new blow to farms and plant nurs­eries as well as to phy­tosan­i­tary offices on the ter­ri­tory,” he said. The sit­u­a­tion jeop­ar­dizes the eco­nomic activ­i­ties in the Xylella-affected areas and even the sta­tus of Apulian plant nurs­eries in the inter­na­tional mar­kets, rep­re­sent­ing a cru­cial por­tion of the Made-in-Italy exports.”


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