Plants

Latest Developments of Xylella fastidiosa in the EU territory

Latest Developments of Xylella fastidiosa in the EU territory

Xylella fastidiosa is regularly discussed at the monthly meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed - Section Plant Health - with Member States. The reports are available here.

Italy

In October 2013, the Italian Authorities notified the first outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies pauca in the Apulia region. This was the first finding of Xylella fastidiosa in the Union territory.

The distribution on the Italian territory remains limited to the South of the region (see demarcated area), while the rest of Italy is still free from the bacterium based on official surveys. However, due to the wide distribution of the bacterium in the infected zone, and the limited removal of infected plants, as reported by five Commission audits carried out between 2014 and 2016, the bacterium has moved towards the north of the region and it is now considered to be established in that part of the Italian territory and eradication is no longer feasible. Therefore, in May 2015, the province of Lecce was declared as an area under containment, and further expanded in May 2016 to include also some municipalities of Taranto and Brindisi.

In 2017, almost 1000 infected olive trees have been detected in the last 20 km part of the infected zone, adjacent to the buffer zone, where felling is legally required. Only one third of those trees have been removed so far, posing a serious risk of further spread into the adjacent 10 km buffer zone and outside the demarcated area as well. The first outbreak of Xylella in the last 20 km part of the infected zone was detected in March 2015 in the Municipality of Oria (province of Brindisi). The bacterium spread rapidly in the surrounding area, mainly due to the fact that those infected trees were not removed immediately, serving as infection source during two vegetation periods.

The range of host plants is increasing as investigations progress, although olive groves represent the most affected plants (see Commission database of host plants found infected in the Union territories). No infections have been confirmed so far on Vitis and Citrus. Official controls are in place to prohibit the movement of specified plants (see Annex I of Decision 2015/789/EU) out of the demarcated area, unless properly authorised (e.g. heat treatment of dormant Vitis plants for planting).

France

In July 2015, the French Authorities notified the first outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies multiplex in Corsica. Since then, intensive monitoring has led to the detection of over 340 outbreaks in Corsica, and 20 outbreaks in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA Region) (see demarcated areas).

In September 2016, an isolated finding of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies pauca was notified on plants of Polygala myrtifolia in the town of Menton (PACA), close to the Italian border. Trace-back activities are still ongoing to confirm the source of the infection. The rest of the French territory remains free from the bacterium based on official surveys.

The range of host plants is increasing as investigations progress, although ornamental plants such as Polygala myrtifolia represent the most affected plant species (see Commission database of host plants found infected in the Union territorys). No infections have been confirmed so far on Vitis and Citrus although, as for other specified plants (see Annex I of Decision 2015/789/EU), planting material of these species is subject to movement restrictions.

A Commission audit carried out in March 2017 concluded that the eradication measures taken in the PACA Region are partly in line with Decision 2015/789/EU, while largely not in line with that in Corsica. More particularly, removal of all host plants in the 100m zone around the infected plants - irrespective of their health status - had not been completed in the majority of the outbreaks of Corsica, and in the outbreak site Menton, where 16 olive trees of high cultural value which tested negative have not yet been removed, although covered by insect nets.

Shortcomings were also identified as regards the surveys carried out in the buffer zones. Their intensity was very limited and not able to confirm the infection status of the buffer zones. Furthermore movement controls in the PACA Region were not properly in place to provide guarantees that specified plants (see Annex I of Decision 2015/789/EU) do not leave the demarcated areas. In Corsica, the bacterium is considered wide-spread and eradication may not be effective any longer at least in some parts of the island. Therefore, French Authorities have requested a containment approach which is currently being discussed with EU Member States and the Commission.

Germany

In June 2016, the German Authorities notified an isolated finding of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies fastidiosa in a potted plant of oleander located in a greenhouse of a small nursery of Saxony (see demarcated area). In total, four plants of different genera have been found infected in the nursery, namely Nerium, Rosmarinus, Streptocarpus hybrid and Erysimum hybrid (see Commission database of host plants found infected in the Union territory). A demarcated area is established and eradication measures are being taken. The rest of the German territory remains free from the bacterium based on official surveys.

A Commission audit carried out in October 2016 confirmed that the outbreak is under control, with some shortcomings to be addressed such as the step-up of survey activities in the buffer zone and increase of movement controls. Trace-back activities are still ongoing to confirm the source of the infection.

Spain

In October 2016, the Spanish Authorities notified the first outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies fastidiosa on three young cherry trees located in a garden centre of Mallorca. Since then, different plant species have been found infected so far by Xylella fastidiosa in numerous locations, widespread in three of the Balearic Islands (156 plants in Mallorca, 68 in Ibiza and 28 in Menorca). You can read here the list of the demarcated areas. Survey activities are being carried out to identify the extension of the outbreak.

While the molecular characterization of some positive samples is still ongoing, there is confirmation that so far three bacterial subspecies are involved:

  • Xylella fastidiosa subspecies fastidiosa (Mallorca),
  • Xylella fastidiosa subspecies multiplex (Mallorca and Menorca)
  • Xylella fastidiosa subspecies pauca (Ibiza)

The range of host plants is increasing as investigations progress, although for the time being positive cases have been reported only on cultivated olive and wild olive trees, plum and almond trees, lavender, oleander, Polygala myrtifolia, Acacia saligna and Fraxinus angustifolia. The first positive case of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies fastidiosa was recently detected also on grapevine.

Plants, tested positive are currently being removed and destroyed. Movement of all specified plants (see Annex I of Decision 2015/789/EU) out of the Baleares islands is prohibited. Trace-back activities are still ongoing to confirm the source of the infection.

A Commission's audit carried out in June 2017 concluded that the measures introduced directly after the first outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa on the island of Mallorca (November 2017) were in line with the Decision.

However, due to the rapid increase of the number of findings since January 2017 the competent authorities concentrate on surveys for the identification of the extent of spread of the bacterium in the Balearic Islands, on the removal of the plants tested positive and on the implementation of the movement ban of specified plants (see Annex I of Decision 2015/789/EU). However, due to the limited intensity and territorial coverage, the surveys do not provide a comprehensive picture about the outbreak situation. The currently applied measures do not ensure the eradication of the pathogen. Taking into consideration the already detected distribution of Xylella fastidiosa, the wide range of host plants and the presence of different subspecies of the bacterium, even with the full application of the provisions of the Decision the eradication will be very difficult to achieve.

Therefore a containment approach in the Balearic Islands is currently being discussed with EU Member States and the Commission.

On 30 June 2017, the Spanish Authorities have notified the first presence of Xylella fastidiosa subsp. multiplex in the Autonomous Region of Valencia, in a parcel of almond trees in Alicante. As investigations progressed, additional parcels of infected almond trees have been found in the surrounding area and notified to the Commission (1 September 2017). The infected zone and a 10 km buffer zone have been further expanded since the first outbreak. Eradication measures are currently being taken and the movement of all specified plants (see Annex I of Decision 2015/789/EU) is subject to restrictions. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection, as aretogether with intensive surveys. At the present time, almond is the only plant species found to be infected in the outbreak area.  

Rest of the EU territory

All Member States must carry out annual surveys for the presence of Xylella fastidiosa in their territory on the entire list of specified plants (Annex I of Decision (EU) 2015/789). Any positive finding must be reported to the Commission and other Member States at the latest within 8 working days following the day of confirmation of the presence of Xylella fastidiosa.

At the present time, the Union territory with the exception of the officially demarcated areas is considered free from Xylella fastidiosa based on official surveys.  For example, in 2016, 40.600 inspections with 20,000 samples were analysed in garden centers, nurseries and other sites across the Union territory, with the exclusion of the demarcated areas. In the demarcated areas established in the Union territory, instead, more than 110,000 samples were analysed in 2016.