Addressing the New Global Threat of Xylella fastidiosa
Xylella fastidiosa is one of the most important threats to plant health worldwide. This bacterial pathogen has a long history, causing disease in the Americas on a range of agricultural crops and trees, with severe economic repercussions particularly on grapevine and citrus. In Europe, X. fastidiosa was detected for the first time in 2013 in association with a severe disease affecting olive trees in southern Italy. Subsequent mandatory surveys throughout Europe led to discoveries in France and Spain in various host species and environments. Detection of additional introductions of X. fastidiosa continue to be reported from Europe, for example from northern Italy in late 2018. These events are leading to a sea change in research, monitoring and management efforts as exemplified by the articles in this Focus Issue. X. fastidiosa is part of complex pathosystems together with hosts and vectors. Although certain X. fastidiosa subspecies and environments have been well studied, particularly those that pertain to established disease in North and South America, this represents only a fraction of the existing genetic, epidemiological, and ecological diversity. This Focus Issue highlights some of the key challenges that must be overcome to address this new global threat, recent advances in understanding the pathosystem, and steps toward improved disease control. It brings together the broad research themes needed to address the global threat of X. fastidiosa, encompassing topics from host susceptibility and resistance, genome sequencing, detection methods, transmission by vectors, epidemiological drivers, chemical and biological control, to public databases and social sciences. Open communication and collaboration among scientists, stakeholders, and the general public from different parts of the world will pave the path to novel ideas to understand and combat this pathogen.