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Eye-in-the-sky to save olive trees

Reported by Science Daily

A new airborne remote-imaging method that scans entire orchards can identify olive trees infected by a devastating bacterium before visible symptoms appear, according to new research.

The scanning, which can be deployed using planes or drones, may help control the spread of infection and save southern Europe's iconic tree.

Xylella fastidiosa is a devastating bacterium, transmitted by common sap-feeding insects, which causes disease in over 350 plant species. Olive trees are especially vulnerable, with the bacteria causing branches and twigs to wither, and leaves to appear scorched.

Common in the Americas but only recently discovered in Europe, Xylella is spreading around the Mediterranean, with many orchards already destroyed in Italy's olive-oil-producing Apulia region. As there is no cure, the only way to stop the disease's progress is to cull infected trees, with earlier diagnoses being the key to more effective containment.

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Date: 
Wednesday, June 27, 2018