JUN 25, 2018 05:48 PM PDT

Airborne Monitoring Could Save Olive Trees From a Pesky Bacterium

Olive trees throughout Europe are in trouble as an incommodious bacterium known as Xylella fastidiosa spreads like wildfire and threatens to wipe them out.

But according to a paper published in the journal Nature Plants this week by researchers from Swansea University, airborne monitoring techniques conducted by way of drones and planes can help experts discern potential outbreaks more quickly; and perhaps even contain them before they get out of hand.

These olive trees are infected with Xylella.

Image Credit: Juan A. Navas-Cortes

Xylella fastidiosa moves from one tree to another via sap-feeding insects that frequently feed on the goods olive trees have to offer. Infected trees exhibit easy-to-spot symptoms like shriveled branches and lifeless leaves, among other things.

It’s particularly important that experts can identify and contain infections before they spread to nearby trees, as there’s no known cure for trees that contract the bacterium. That said, the earlier an infection is recognized, the better.

For this study, the researchers conducted air-based surveys with hyperspectral and thermal imaging equipment to identify potentially-impacted trees and later followed up with ground-based Xylella tests. The alignments in the datasets resulting from each of the tests were considerable, to say the least.

"Our study found that the effects of the bacterial infection can be remotely detected before any visible symptoms appear, allowing for rapid and accurate mapping of Xylella-infected olive trees across target orchards," explained Professor Peter North, a co-author of the study from the Department of Geography at Swansea University.

Related: Are all the trees dying?

Worthy of note, exacerbators like climate change only worsen the adverse effects associated with plant-related diseases, and the same holds true for Xylella fastidiosa. Fortunately, with novel methods of detecting these infections coming into the light, it’s only a matter of time before local conservation agencies adopt said methods to fight against plant disease.

"International cooperation is essential for early detection, to control damage and prevent spread," added Dr. Rocio Hernandez-Clemente, another co-author of the study.

"This study demonstrates the possibility of detection of symptoms at an early stage and may be adapted to drones and aircraft for widespread use."

With a light now appearing at the end of the dark tunnel, perhaps there’s hope for Europe’s olive trees after all.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2018
Videos
NOV 05, 2018
The Mechanisms Underlying the Deadly Blow of the Mantis Shrimp
The mantis shrimp packs a powerful punch that can strike its enemies with one of the fastest moves in the animal kingdom....
NOV 09, 2018
Earth & The Environment
NOV 09, 2018
Can Amazon trees keep up?
New research from the University of Leeds and the collaboration of 30 global Institutions suggest that the Amazon tree diversity will not be sufficient to...
NOV 21, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 21, 2018
Intro to Phytocannabinoids
With the surge in public interest in marijuana due to state-by-state marijuana legislature reform have come two new chemical substances that have entered p...
NOV 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 28, 2018
Does Predation Drive the Interspecific Relationship Between Anemones and Clownfish?
Interspecific mutualism – when two different animal species depend on one another for survival – can be found all around the globe. But perhaps...
DEC 12, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 12, 2018
Bioenergy crops are hurting global biodiversity
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that bioenergy crop production may not be as eco-friendly as once th...
DEC 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 20, 2018
A Computational Tool for Unraveling the Genetics of Complex Traits
Genetic research has moved beyond the single mutation that causes a disease. Scientists want to know more about traits that are influenced by multiple genes....
Loading Comments...