Deadly olive plague threatens crops

Mass planting leaves groves defenceless against disease that could kill millions of trees

An olive grove in Majorca has been devastated by the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium

By David Jackson

The regional government has said it will do “everything it can” to prevent a deadly olive tree plague from spreading into the region.

The Xylella fastidiosa bacterium has been found across Alicante and the Balearic Isles, where it causes the sudden death of olive trees. The disease is called olive quick decline syndrome (OQDS) and has caused devastation in parts of Italy since it arrived there in 2013, with several million trees affected.

However, a study by the European Commission showed that the Spanish pathogen is a new mutation which is distinct from the Italian disease.

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