Xylella Preparedness Workshop

June 8, 2016

The National Xylella Preparedness Workshop was held on 1 June 2016 in Melbourne, funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

The workshop was organised by PHA’s Sharyn Taylor and Victoria Ludowici (with guidance provided by DAWR and Horticulture Innovation Australia) and a number of workshops were facilitated by Stephen Dibley, Program Manager, Training & Biosecurity Preparedness. Forty-two people attended the workshop, representing 12 industries, state and territory governments, R&D funding providers, the Ministry of Primary Industries NZ  and the Australian Government.

Xylella fastidiosa is an invasive bacterial plant pathogen that causes significant environmental and economic impacts. Although it is not present in Australia it is of major concern to Australia’s plant industries and is listed as high priority pest of a number of PHA industry members.

Over 200 commercial and ornamental plants are susceptible to Xylella, and every year tests show it is capable of infecting more plant species.

All insect species that feed on xylem fluid from plants are thought to act as vectors for the pathogen. Depending on the host plant, the disease is known as: Pierce’s disease, California vine disease, Anaheim disease (in grapevine), alfalfa dwarf disease (in lucerne), phony disease (in peach), leaf scald (in plum), quick decline (in olive), leaf scorch (in coffee, almond, blueberry, olive, oleander, elm, oak, plane, mulberry, maple), and variegated chlorosis (in citrus).

The European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) has prepared a fact sheet on Xylella which also describes the recent outbreak in Europe.

The workshop provided an update on the impacts of Xylella in Europe, in particular the effects being seen in parts of Italy where the pathogen is causing the death of all olive trees it has infected. The workshop also assessed the types of preparedness activities that could be undertaken to minimise the impact of a potential Xylella incursion in Australia. Key areas for discussion were heightened industry and government awareness, improved diagnostics, and building on our capacity to detect and report the presence of Xylella in Australia.

A formal Communique from the meeting is being drafted and will be available from the PHA website.