Work PackagesBeXyl is a 4-year project consisting of 10 Work Packages spanning a broad spectrum of disciplines
Overview of the topics of research
Work Package 1
Drivers of epidemics in the EU, new outbreaks risk assessment
Leader: J. A. Navas-Cortes (CSIC)
Co-leader: M.A. Jacques (INRAE)
Although knowledge of the main drivers of the establishment and spread of Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) in Europe has increased in recent years, high uncertainty still exists, especially for the strains isolated in the EU. The BeXyl project aims to fill this gap to provide policy-makers with tools for a robust risk assessment on new introductions, establishment, and spread of Xf in Europe, considering climate change scenarios. Researchers will investigate Xf strains’ plant host range and pathogenicity relevant to the Mediterranean Basin’s main crops, ornamentals, and landscape forestry trees under current and future climate scenarios, identifying Xf genetic traits associated to climate and host adaptation and producing maps of risk for selected areas in the EU.
Work Package 2
New strategies and methods of detection and surveillance
Leader: A. Vicent (IVIA)
Co-leader: P.J. Zarco-Tejada (University of Melbourne)
In the EU, surveillance programs for Xf are mandatory. However, the large extension of some EU outbreaks makes early detection still a significant challenge. The BeXyl Project aims to reduce this uncertainty by integrating surveillance data-based models with a wide range of new analytic tools and strategies: detailed genetic information on Xf, satellite sensors, sentinel plant species and sentinel plots, molecular diagnostic methods to characterize Xf genetic profiles in plants and vectors, new and efficient trapping method to monitor vectors’ population, and the assessment of the potential application of dogs’ sense of smell for the asymptomatic phases of Xf infections.
Work Package 3
Thermal treatment for safe plant material exchange
Leader: F. La Notte (CNR)
Co-leader: J. Pagès (ENA)
The nursery sector is essential for forestry and agriculture also providing ecosystem services, such as for climate change mitigation. Recent Xf outbreaks in Europe are a serious threat to the sector, because of the restrictions they cause in plant movement. A known solution to ensure safe trade of plant material is thermal treatment. Xf-approved protocols, however, exist for vines only. More information on their effectiveness on other host plants is needed. The BeXyl Project aims at developing new thermal treatment protocols for planting and propagating plant materials, with the specific objective is to identify, test and evaluate the operative use for certification systems. The protocols will be at the disposal of the national authorities and the European nursery sector.
Work Package 4
Host plant resistance
Leader: O. Bahar (ARO)
Co-leader: A. Belaj (IFAPA)
Plant host resistance is the main pillar in a successful Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy for Xf diseases. Building on the results of former EU projects, BeXyl ensures the research investments needed to exploit these results and to extend the available resistant genotypes. The goal is to identify new Xf-resistant host genotypes in main perennial crops and to unravel the mechanisms of resistance, mainly on olives and almonds, that are the crops most severely affected by Xf in Europe. BeXyl will develop new molecular tools to assist in the breeding for resistance, establishing the foundation of breeding programs for those two plant species.
Work Package 5
Control of the vectors to disrupt Xf transmission
Leader: D. Bosco (University of Turin)
Co-leader: E. Quesada (UCO)
Meadow spittlebugs are the main vector for Xf transmission. Former EU-funded research projects provided knowledge on the life cycle, host-plant association, dispersal, transmission biology, feeding behavior, and population control of the vectors in Europe. The BeXyl Project will focus on new innovative biological tools and nature-derived insecticides (from plants and microbes) to control Xf vector populations and reduce their transmission efficiency. Biological control agents, such as new natural enemies, fungi, and viruses pathogenic to spittlebugs, are examples of the investigation in that area.
Work Package 6
Economically and environmentally sound solutions for control in the host plants
Leader: E. Montesinos (University of Girona)
Co-leader: S. Compant (AIT)
Currently, there are no chemical or organic pesticides treatments for Xf. Despite the efforts of research at the EU and global level, there is still a substantial gap in solutions. The BeXyl Project interacts with other EU projects, Life Resilience and BIOVEXO, to develop new methodologies for alleviating disease symptoms by eliminating or reducing pathogen populations. The research covers the modification of plant microbiome by applying synthetic bacterial communities, new antimicrobials including functional peptides, and natural plant extracts and bacteriophages to produce plants at the nursery scale with increased resilience to Xf infection and also to treat the plants at field scale.
Work Package 7
Tactics and strategies of management on the ground
Leader: G. Gilioli (University of Brescia)
Co-leader: D. Olmo (SEMILLA)
There is an urgent need to provide farmers, nurseries, and national plant protection organizations with effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) solutions to mitigate the impacts of Xf infections. The BeXyl Project will investigate and validate tools for risk assessment at different spatial and temporal scales and in different agro-ecosystems, best agronomic practices for tolerant/resistant cultivars in infected areas, and innovative solutions for controlling the vector populations and the bacteria within the plant. In the framework of the project, a plots’ network will contribute to demonstrating the use of the innovative tools developed in the project for managing Xf infections.
Work Package 8
Ecology and Society
Leader: C. Pollard (FCRA)
Co-leader: J. Barreiro-Hurle (JRC)
The BeXyl Project wants to provide social, ecological, and economic evidence enabling policy and decision-makers to design and apply socially acceptable management effective practices for Xf. To that aim, researchers will draw lessons from the EU and national strategies to tackle Xf outbreaks, outlining innovative plans for plant health management in future outbreaks. BeXyl will identify potential barriers preventing the adoption of Integrated Pest Management schemes and support their adoption by providing an economic analysis of the implementation of those schemes at the regional and farm level.
Work Package 9
Stakeholder’s engagement, dissemination, communication
Leader: D. Prestigiacomo (Surrender MS)
Co-leader: S. Sharrock (BGCI)
The purpose of this Work Package is to implement the project communication and dissemination plan in order to maximize the project visibility and to ensure the best exploitation of the project results. The BeXyl Project provide strong communication initiatives based on stakeholder’s engagement, improved information campaigns, simulation exercises and citizen science.
Work Package 10
Coordination and Management
Leader: B. B. Landa (CSIC)
Co-leader: M. Saponari (CNR)
Main objectives of the Work Package is the coordination, monitoring of resources and quality control of the products including the administrative and financial management, and the technical and scientific management of the BeXyl Project.