BRIGIT - A consortium for enhancing UK surveillance and response to Xylella fastidiosa
Xylella fastidiosa is a plant pathogen transmitted by xylem-feeding insects to more than 500 plant species. Introduction of X. fastidiosa into the UK is highly likely and it would lead to major damage to crops, ornamental plants and forest trees.
The overall aim of the BRIGIT project is to enhance diagnostics, identify factors that could lead to spread and formulate response strategies to mitigate the devastating effects of X. fastidiosa.
The BRIGIT transdisciplinary consortium involves scientists across a spectrum of biological and social sciences, including genomics and molecular biology, social anthropology, plant pathology, entomology and ecology, and engages stakeholders and policymakers.
WP1. Co-design, crowd sourcing and knowledge exchange.
Engage with key stakeholders, volunteers and the wider public to exchange information and raise awareness about the host range and insect vectors of X. fastidiosa and typical symptoms caused by this pathogen.
Create databases that provide open-access information on insect vector distributions, taxonomy and genome sequence data.
Work with social scientists to make sure these databases are useful to end users.
WP2. Enhancing diagnostic capabilities.
Improve various aspects of detection of X. fastidiosa in plants and insect vectors.
Fera Science Ltd will co-ordinate work within BRIGIT on targeted sampling and diagnostic sensitivity for more reliable detection of the bacterium in diverse plant and tree species.
New diagnostic techniques will be explored to rapidly detect sources of introduction.
WP3. Investigating insect vector biology.
Generate a better understanding of the biology of the estimated 20 xylem-feeding insect species that may transmit X. fastidiosa in the UK.
The geographic distribution of these insect species and the plant species they colonise across Europe will be investigated.
Genetic population structures of these species will be captured to identify insect migration routes between habitats and across the UK.
WP4. Xylella fastidiosa epidemiology modelling.
Generate models for fine and large-scale dispersal of X. fastidiosa via insect vectors and plant transport. This will include a human behaviour component to investigate the effects of the vast plant trade on disease spread, which will inform surveillance and control strategies
Forest Research is involved in the four working packages of BRIGIT.
FR leads WP1 "Co-design, crowd sourcing and knowledge exchange", manages aims in WP2 (Improving and optimisation of the diagnostics of X. fastidiosa on tree hosts to enhance detection sensitivity and reliability) and WP4 (Human pathways of X. fastidiosa spread) and are team members in the four working packages.
Funding and partners
The £4.85m BRIGIT research programme on X. fastidiosa is part of the bacterial plant diseases programme which is a £17.7m collaboration between UK Research and Innovation Councils, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – together with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Scottish Government who are providing £1.1m of additional funding.