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Spotlight on critical outbreak of pests: the case of Xylella fastidiosa
Deadline: Feb 17, 2016  

 Fisheries and Food
 Plant Health
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Xylella fastidiosa - a regulated harmful organism in the EU - has been detected in Italy where it is causing severe damage in particular to olive trees. There is growing concern over its potential to spread and establish throughout Europe and affect a significant number and range of host species (about 300). The potential consequences are major and could result in significant yield losses and costly control measures not just in olive trees but also in other economically important crops such as grapes, citrus fruits, stone fruits and almonds. A recent EFSA scientific opinion has confirmed the significant threat to plant health and European agriculture posed by the pest, amongst others because of X. fastidiosa's high levels of genetic plasticity and the fact that hosts can be infected without displaying any symptoms.


Proposals will set out a comprehensive package of research and innovation actions to improve the prevention, early detection and control of X. fastidiosa in hosts and vectors. They shall increase knowledge on the biology of the pathogen and vector(s), on host/vector/pathogen interaction and epidemiology. Work shall target both the Apulian strain of X. fastidiosa and other strains that could represent a serious risk in the EU. Practical guidelines and integrated solutions for crop and disease management shall be developed to detect early, control outbreak and prevent spread of the disease in conventional and organic farming systems. Prevention measures should consider the introduction and spread of X. fastidiosa within and from outside the EU. Activities will support the development of region-specific risk assessment and eradication plans. Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]], ensuring solid collaboration between research, plant health authorities and farming sector. International collaboration is highly encouraged with partners from Third Countries affected by the pest in particular to capitalise on existing knowledge. Activities should also take into account ongoing and/or recent work, e.g. funded under the EUPHRESCO ERA-NET.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Grants awarded under this topic will be complementary to grant agreement N° 635646 - Pest Organisms Threatening Europe (POnTE). The respective options of Article 2, Article 31.6 and Article 41.4 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

Expected Impact:

Results of the work will significantly enhance the capacity of farmers and plant health authorities to manage the disease and prevent further economic losses in crops. Activities and information gained will help to:

  • gain more detailed knowledge in particular on the relevant European strain(s) of Xylella fastidiosa along with its hosts and vectors;
  • develop validated and harmonised methods and tools for early detection, treatment and control;
  • establish more effective mechanisms and tools for risk assessment and prevention, as well as guidelines for eradication;
  • provide the farming sector with adequate information and tools to tackle the disease throughout the agronomic cycle in various agro-ecological conditions;
  • inform breeding activities for more resistant plant varieties.

In the longer term, the results of the work will help to ensure that European agriculture remains productive and delivers quality products that meet the expectations of consumers and the food chain.

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