Olive killer bacteria found on the French Mediterranean island

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Officials on Corsica took emergency measures on Thursday after the discovery of a bacteria that could ravage fruit and olive oil production on the French Mediterranean island. Xylella fastidiosa has already killed thousands of olive trees in the Italian region of Puglia and is considered a threat to olive production around the Mediterranean.

The first-ever infection by Xylella fastidiosa on Corsica was found on an ornamental tree outside a shopping mall in the southern Corsican town of Propriano.

The bacteria attacks trees bearing olives, citrus fruits, walnuts and almonds, as well as oaks and other plants and there is no known antidote.

Since the 1980s the production of good quality olive oil and wine have been an important supplement to Corsica’s income from tourism, so the spread of the bacteria could do serious harm to the local economy.

It could even spread to mainland France, where a case was identified at Paris’s Rungis wholesale market in April and isolated, and cause serious problems for farmers in the south.

Corsican officials sprung into action, ripping up the plant and those around it and disinfesting the area.

They are worried that the infected plant was apparently planted in 2010.

That raises two worrying questions – was it already infected, in which case has the bacteria spread elsewhere, or, even more worrying, was it infected by another plant that has not been identified?

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