Untreatable Olive Tree Disease Can Be Contained, But Must Be Better Monitored, says SHRO Researcher

Xylella fastidiosa, subsp. pauca is a bacterial pathogen currently devastating the olive orchards in Southern Italy (Apulia). Due to the epidemic, local production of olive oil has dropped by 90%, olive mills are shut down, the regional economy is suffering, and an invaluable cultural asset is compromised.

Keeping the epidemic under control requires the identification of infected plants in previously uninfected regions, and then taking the appropriate containment measures – i.e., uprooting of infected plants, as well as fighting the insect that spreads the bacterial infection.

In a new paper, prof. Enrico Bucci, from the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO), proves how the current disease monitoring strategy is insufficient to identify all the infected plants, and thus allows the progression of the epidemic via undetected infection hotspots.

At the same time, Bucci shows how 98% of the infected olive trees cluster in spots of radius equal to 100-meters, thus providing a strong rationale for the current uprooting strategy, dictating eradication of all plants in a 100 meters radius around newly detected infected plants.

Moreover, since herbicide and insecticide treatments targeting the larval and adult vectors of the disease are independent of infected tree detection, the vector containment measures designed by the scientific community and dictated by the law are also strongly supported.

Given the current lack of any cure, containing the Xylella epidemic is a priority for preserving the traditional landscapes and the economies of the Mediterranean area: data published in this new paper on the effectiveness of the actions implemented to face the infection spreading are thus vital for finely tuning an appropriate containment strategy.

The SHRO and its researchers will always be at the forefront of the battle to save our environment from threats menacing humans, animals, and plants.

Bucci, E. M. Effectiveness of the monitoring of X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca in the olive orchards of Southern Italy (Apulia). Rend. Lincei. Sci. Fis. e Nat. (2019). doi:10.1007/s12210-019-00832-6

About the Sbarro Health Research Organization

The Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) is non-profit charity committed to funding excellence in basic genetic research to cure and diagnose cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other chronic illnesses and to foster the training of young doctors in a spirit of professionalism and humanism. To learn more about the SHRO please visit www.shro.org

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