Authorities Investigate New Olive Tree Pathogen in Northeast Italy

The Venetian regional government has teamed up with farmers and researchers to find the cause of an ongoing outbreak
Sep. 8, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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Authorities in the north­east­ern Italian region of Veneto are search­ing for the most effi­cient way to com­bat an unknown pathogen attack­ing many of the area’s olive trees.

The Venetian regional gov­ern­ment has already pledged €20,000 ($23,700) to iden­tify and con­tain the novel pathogen, which was first noticed in the area three years ago.

See Also: Asian Bug May Be Cause of Green Drop in Olive Trees, Researchers Find

It is not Xylella fas­tidiosa,” the author­i­ties said in a press release. It is an emerg­ing dis­ease that threat­ens Venetian olive groves. Since 2017, we have observed phe­nom­ena includ­ing the wilt­ing of tree branches, necro­sis and fruit drops.”

Already, agro-forestry researchers at the University of Padua have been able to iden­tify some of the pathogens involved in the out­breaks.

Certain fungi, from the Botryosphaeriaceae fam­ily, are now con­sid­ered respon­si­ble for dam­ag­ing the plants’ health and their pro­duc­tive capac­ity.

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However, the researchers in charge of the project told Olive Oil Times that it might still be too soon to point to a spe­cific cause. They added that in the next cou­ple of months it should be pos­si­ble to have a more clear pic­ture of what is going on.

With the help of local olive farm­ers, pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tions and the Veneto PDO olive oil con­sor­tia, author­i­ties hope to mon­i­tor what hap­pens to the trees and bet­ter under­stand the vec­tors, or pests, that spread the dis­ease. Figuring this out will be an essen­tial step to inform future con­tain­ment and pre­ven­tion strate­gies.

Moving for­ward, the researchers plan on car­ry­ing out exper­i­ments in the field in which they will test cer­tain fungi­cides specif­i­cally designed for use against Botryosphaeria doth­idea, Neofusicoccum parvum and Phytophthora.

They will also closely observe the other plant and insect species found in the olive groves in order to under­stand their role as reser­voirs for the pathogens.

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est is the inva­sive Asian bug species, which agron­o­mists have already shown to be a poten­tial can­di­date for caus­ing green drop in the region’s olive trees.

Local author­i­ties said that more than 12,400 acres (5,000 hectares) of olive groves will be observed, includ­ing the areas around Lake Garda, the Colli Euganei, Berici and Monte Grappa.





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