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Scientists detected in Mallorca the same Xf strain that ravaged olive trees in Apulia

Feb 2, 2024 | News

The Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment of the Balearic Island officially confirmed the presence of Xylella fastidiosa subspecies pauca with sequence type ST53 on wild olive trees in Mallorca, according to the Spanish news agency Europapress. Pauca ST53 is the same genetic variant that has destroyed millions of olive trees in Apulia since 2013.

In a press conference, the local authorities also presented a new containment plan and the convening of the Xylella Steering and Coordination Group to carry out a more detailed evaluation of the plan and to report on the status of the investigations and controls.

Councillor Joan Simonet explained that during the inspections carried out by the Plant Health Department, technicians took samples from some wild olive trees that showed different symptoms from the usual ones.

The reference laboratory, in Valencia, analysed the samples and on 15 January confirmed that they belonged to the Xylella fastidiosa spp. pauca ST53 strain. New positives in other samples confirmed the identification.

The BeXyl partners Irfap, IVIA, and IAS-CSIC contributed to the detection and identification of the new strain.

There are now seven outbreaks within a three-kilometre radius in the municipality of Sencelles: six in wild olive trees and one in an oleander. “These trees have already been uprooted,” said the councillor.

Simonet stressed that both the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the European Commission had already been informed of these outbreaks, as well as the sector, which was aware of the suspicion that this subspecies had arrived in Mallorca.

The Director General of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development of the Balearic Islands, Fernando Fernández, said that the main objective now is to stop the advance of this harmful organism in the traditional and productive olive groves of Mallorca with a new containment plan.

However, he stressed that the detection of X. fastidiosa pauca ST53 in Mallorca is a qualitative leap that requires exceptional measures.

Fernando Fernández also had a message for the sector. “Everyone knows that the cleanliness and maintenance of plots limits the spread of the disease. Therefore, in order to control Xylella, we need to keep the forest and agricultural land in good condition. That’s why we need everyone’s cooperation,” he said.

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