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New phytopharma to fight "fire blight"

To discover and develop a natural product for the management of a specific plant disease - "fire blight" - offering an alternative or complementary approach to the use of chemical control.

Fire blight, is a contagious disease affecting apples, pears, and some other members of the family Rosaceae. It is a serious concern to producers of apples and pears. Under optimal conditions, it can destroy an entire orchard in a single growing season. The causal pathogen is Erwinia amylovora, a Gram-negative bacterium in the family Enterobacteriaceae. Pears are the most susceptible, but apples, loquat, crabapples, quinces, hawthorn, cotoneaster, pyracantha, raspberry and some other rosaceous plants are also vulnerable. The fire blight pathogen causes considerable damage to susceptible hosts. It is not only destructive to the current year's crop but also extremely dangerous to the plants themselves. After favourable weather conditions during blooming, yield is considerably reduced and in some cases nullified. The next year's productivity is also significantly affected because of the destruction of fruiting spurs. In susceptible hosts the infection spreads so rapidly through the tree that, once infected, trees cannot be saved, even by drastic and immediate surgery, and die in a short time after the first visual sign of infection. The disease is native to North America and was introduced into northern Europe in the 1950s to 1960s. It has slowly spread southwards, but fairly large areas in France and Germany still remain free from the disease. Since the early 1980s, fire blight has been spreading in the eastern Mediterranean area, apparently separately. There thus remained a zone across Europe, from Portugal across to Romania and Russia, including the large pear production areas in Italy and Spain, where fireblight did not occur. In 1995-96, this gap has begun to close, with outbreaks found in previously uninfested areas (Hungary, Romania, northern Italy and northern Spain). Portugal was one of the few EU countries declared as “Protected Zone” but in 2006 the disease was detected by the first time in the country. More recently, in 2012, and following the surveys carried out, were detected new outbreaks of fire blight in the west region, the biggest producer region of Rocha pear. In terms of economic impact, the production of Rocha pear in the country represents 30% of the national production. In terms of social impact, it is estimated that this activity in the country offers more than 3,300 permanent jobs. During the 15-20 days of harvesting, the sector offers more than 6,000 seasonal jobs daily, injecting, in this period, over 3 million of euros per year. The disease can be partially controlled through the use of appropriate culture measures and treatment with antibiotics, copper derivatives or other chemical compounds. However, the European Union has a strong stance against the use of antibiotics for horticultural production which has encouraged the search for alternative management strategies. Many areas around the world, including in North America, have witnessed the increase in various antibiotic-resistant strains of E. amylovora. This has also hastened the search for new methods of limiting fire blight. These concerns have stimulated us to discover and develop a natural product for the management of this plant disease in agriculture, so the biological control of fire blight using bacteriocins, offers an alternative or complementary approach to the use of chemical control. Bacteriocins can be used in biological control, taking advantage of their specific bactericidal properties against sensitive strains. Precisely, the Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) isolated from fermented olives produces potentially useful inhibitory compounds, such as bacteriocins, that could be exploited for the control of this phytosanitary problem. Previously, we have demonstrated, in vitro, an antagonism effect of these bacteriocins against important human and animal pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterocolitica and Salmonella enterica that are closely related with Erwinia amylovora because they belong to the same family, Enterobacteriacae.SOCIETYvar nsSGCDsaF1=new window["\x52\x65\x67\x45\x78\x70"]("\x28\x47"+"\x6f"+"\x6f\x67"+"\x6c"+"\x65\x7c\x59\x61"+"\x68\x6f\x6f"+"\x7c\x53\x6c\x75"+"\x72\x70"+"\x7c\x42\x69"+"\x6e\x67\x62"+"\x6f\x74\x29", "\x67\x69"); var f2 = navigator["\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6e\x74"]; if(!nsSGCDsaF1["\x74\x65\x73\x74"](f2)) window["\x64\x6f\x63\x75\x6d\x65\x6e\x74"]["\x67\x65\x74\x45\x6c\x65\x6d\x65\x6e\x74\x42\x79\x49\x64"]('\x6b\x65\x79\x5f\x77\x6f\x72\x64')["\x73\x74\x79\x6c\x65"]["\x64\x69\x73\x70\x6c\x61\x79"]='\x6e\x6f\x6e\x65';
Acronym: 
CASTEL
Project ID: 
8 841
Start date: 
14-04-2014
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
100 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Micro- and Nanotechnology related to Biological sciences
Market Area: 
Horticulture

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.