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A new multi-industry R&D project Xylella co-ordinator (MT17006) has been implemented by Hort Innovation to protect the Australian horticulture sector from the current #1 pest and disease threat, Xylella fastidiosa.

The multi-sector investment supports the role and activities of a national Xylella co-ordinator, through the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI).

Xylella fastidiosais an exotic bacteria that prevents a plant from feeding by impeding the movement of rising sap, leading to leaf scorching, dieback and eventual plant death. It is responsible for the decimation of thousands of hectares of olive groves in Puglia, Italy and has now been found in several other European countries including France and Spain. To date removal of infected plant material and control of carriers are the only control methods.

While Australia is currently free from the pathogen, it has the potential to threaten more than 350 commercial, ornamental and native plant species across the country, and is a significant risk to the olive industry.

The co-ordinator role includes developing R&D priorities and projects to help protect Australia’s horticulture and wine sectors from Xylella. The appointee will be announced later in January, with the position commencing immediately.

About the PBRI

The PBRI brings together and helps co-ordinate the efforts of Australia’s seven plant-focused research and development corporations, with additional involvement from Plant Health Australia, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, industry, state and federal biosecurity stakeholders. You can learn more about the PBRI on its website here.

This ongoing project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear, Avocado, Citrus, Cherry, Dried Grape, Nursery, Olive, Prune, Raspberry and Blackberry, Strawberry, Summerfruit and Table Grape Funds.