Xylella Fastidiosa Arrives in Third French Region

Authorities have implemented containment protocols after discovering an infected lavender plant at a gardening store in Occitanie. The southern region is home to about one-quarter of France’s olive oil production.
Carcassonne, France, where the infected plants were found. Photo courtesy of Dennis Jarvis
By Paolo DeAndreis
Sep. 16, 2020 08:18 UTC

Xylella fas­tidiosa has been detected for the first time in the south­ern French region of Occitanie, accord­ing to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry.

The deadly plant pathogen was dis­cov­ered in an orna­men­tal laven­der plant that was being sold at a gar­den­ing shop. The dis­ease was detected dur­ing rou­tine checks per­formed by the author­i­ties in August.

See Also:Xylella Fastidiosa Updates

Immediate pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures were taken, includ­ing stop­ping all mar­ket­ing of plants from this estab­lish­ment, while phy­tosan­i­tary treat­ment was applied to the entire site,” the min­istry said in a press release. A perime­ter with a radius of 2.5 kilo­me­ters (1.5 miles) around the site has been estab­lished in order to pre­vent any spread of the dis­ease.”

The trace­abil­ity inves­ti­ga­tion is under­way to deter­mine the ori­gin of the infec­tion,” the min­istry added. A series of sam­ples are taken from all other plants sus­cep­ti­ble to the bac­te­ria located in the infected area to deter­mine the extent of the infec­tion.”

So far, more than 200 sam­ples have been col­lected from the region and sent to state-run lab­o­ra­to­ries to be tested.

The local author­i­ties in the pre­fec­ture of Aude, where the infected laven­der was found, have also called on res­i­dents to report whether they had pur­chased any plant mate­r­ial from the gar­den­ing shop in the pre­vi­ous two years.

The min­istry also con­firmed that the European Union’s Xylella con­tain­ment pro­to­col was acti­vated. This means that in the poten­tially infected areas, all plants vul­ner­a­ble to the dis­ease will be per­ma­nently removed and destroyed.

Xylella fas­tidiosa was first detected on the French island of Corsica in 2015 and was later dis­cov­ered on the French main­land in the neigh­bor­ing region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

State and local author­i­ties are par­tic­u­larly wor­ried about this most recent out­break as Occitanie is a major pro­ducer of table olives, olive oil, wine and many other agri­cul­tural goods.

In 2016, the region pro­duced more than 25 per­cent of the olive oil har­vested in France and is respon­si­ble for half of the country’s table olive pro­duc­tion.

All agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion sec­tors are exposed to a risk of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion – vines, olive trees, fruit trees of the genus prunus, cit­rus fruits, alfalfa, orna­men­tal species, etc,” the min­istry said. The bac­te­ria also con­sti­tutes a dan­ger for uncul­ti­vated plants, which may be of par­tic­u­lar social, envi­ron­men­tal or her­itage inter­est, such as endemic species.”


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