Paper on “Insects Vectors of Emerging Diseases: a new threat to our Agriculture”

This interesting presentation will be offered within the dedicated block “Tools for the control of pests and diseases” of the program of the First Microbiome Forum.

Alberto Fereres Castiel is a research professor at the Department of Plant Protection of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences of the CSIC. As an expert entomologist, he will focus his paper on the importance of insect transmitters of diseases such as Xylella or HLB and will explain possible solutions and control methods, some based on microbiological tools.


Emerging diseases

Emerging diseases in plants are caused by pathogenic organisms that:

a) have increased their incidence, their geographical distribution or their range of guests,

b) have changed their pathogenic capacity by becoming more aggressive,

c) have evolved recently and

d) they have been recently discovered or rediscovered (Anderson et al 2004; Power et al 2008).

Until a few years ago, viruses constituted the most important group of pathogenic organisms, causing 47% of emerging diseases in plants. Animal viruses also cause the majority of diseases in humans (44%) and in wildlife (43%). However, until a few years ago, phytopathogenic bacteria caused only 16% of the diseases in known plants, contrasting with the higher incidence of these pathogenic organisms in humans or in wild life, where they produce twice as many diseases (30%) (Anderson et al 2004).

“The increase and globalization of trade in ornamental plants and climate change may be favoring the emergence of new diseases”

However, in recent years, the emergence of new diseases caused by phytopathogenic bacteria and transmitted by insect vectors have caused great social alarm. This is the case of Candidatus Liberibacter spp. or Xylella fastidiosa.

The cause for which the diseases of bacterial origin transmitted by insects have increased in incidence in the last years is unknown, but it can have to do with the increase and the globalization of the trade of ornamental plants and the climatic change that can be favoring the expansion of these pathogens and their vectors to new geographical regions.

This paper will explain the characteristics of these diseases, their mode of transmission by insects and their possible control methods, including microbiological tools.