EU to fund new research on Xylella

The European Commission is making funds available to boost research into Xylella fastidiosa, a pathogenic bacterium that has been found on olive trees and other plants in southern Italy and on ornamental plants in southern France and Corsica.

Speaking at a gathering of experts in Brussels, Annette Schneegans, from the Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture, urged participants to apply for grants of up to €7 million to carry out work that can increase knowledge of this dangerous plant pest.

Her call came at the end of a two-day workshop – hosted by EFSA at the request of the European Commission – that explored research needs and priorities for X. fastidiosa.

Franck Berthe, head of EFSA’s Animal and Plant Health Unit, said he hoped the workshop would be the first step towards greater sharing and coordination of research and data on X. fastidiosa across the EU and beyond.

“A recurring theme in the various meetings was not only the urgent need for new research but also the need for multi-actor, global cooperation in the fight against Xylella. With this new funding stream from the Commission, we hope to make important strides together over the coming months and years,” he said.

“EFSA plans to organise more gatherings of this kind, perhaps on an annual basis, and is exploring other ways in which we can act as a facilitator for research activities related to Xylella.”

More than 100 specialists from around the world attended the workshop, where they heard keynote speakers outline the situation in the EU and North and South America as well as the latest thinking on how to control X. fastidiosa. They then took part in four break-out sessions looking at surveillance and detection; the identity, biology, epidemiology and control of vectors; identification of the host range, breeding for resistance and certification of host plants; and the biology, genetics and control of the pathogen.

As well as the speaker from DG-Agriculture, the European Commission was also represented by staff from DG-Research and DG-Health and Food Safety.

Horizon 2020 call on X. fastidiosa

Proposals are invited that will improve research into preventing, detecting and controlling X.fastidiosa. They should also increase knowledge of the biology of X. fastidiosa and its vectors, of host/vector/pathogen interaction, and of epidemiology. More information on the call can be found on the European Commission website.

Horizon 2020 is the EU funding programme for research and innovation that runs until 2020 with a budget of €80 billion. 

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