Xylella fastidiosa has devastated ancient olive trees in Italy's southern Apulia region and beyond since 2013, leaving thousands
Xylella fastidiosa has devastated ancient olive trees in Italy’s southern Apulia region and beyond since 2013, leaving thousands of skeleton-like trees in its wake, and little hope for farmers

Working in an arid Italian field of crumbly soil, agronomists are battling a rampant bacterium that has already infected millions of olive trees and could threaten the entire Mediterranean basin.

Xylella fastidiosa, which has no known cure, has devastated ancient olive trees in Italy’s southern Apulia region and beyond, causing 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of damage to the world’s second olive oil exporter after Spain.

Since 2013, the disease has torn through Apulia’s olive groves, leaving thousands of skeleton-like trees in its wake, and little hope for farmers.

Once Xylella fastidiosa bacteria—carried by tiny sap-sucking insects known as spittlebugs—take hold, blocking the tree’s ability to absorb water, the plant is doomed.

Bureaucracy and ‘mafia’

The only way to fight the spread of the disease, known as “olive tree leprosy”, is to destroy diseased trees, but farmers must seek special permission and say the authorities are not always…

read more: phys.org

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