Olive trees are being slowly killed by bacteria in southern Italy. The disease is transforming a centuries-old landscape and also threatening the economic and social way of life. How did this crisis come about? From his own laboratory, renowned Italian expert on the disease, Donato Bascia, witnessed the drama unfold.
"We started to work on this disease some 5 years ago. It was summertime, in 2013. We started to hear about these trees drying up around the small city of Galipoli, in the region of Salento, southern Italy. After a couple of months of different research activities here in the lab, by mid-October 2013 we were able to identify for the first time the bacteriaXyella Fastidiosa. Specifically we were able to identify molecules from its DNA. Immediately we had to communicate our findings to the relevant authorities. This organism (the bacteria) must be put under quarantine as it is extremely harmful. So Italian laws and European directives forced us to immediately report our research findings."
Donato Boscia, Phytopathologist, Italian National Research Council.