“Yellow dragon epidemic”: What is this disease that threatens agriculture?

“Yellow dragon epidemic”: What is this disease that threatens agriculture?

Researchers warn Europe of the risks of an epidemic of the “yellow dragon” this Monday, January 9th. This disease is already decimating citrus fruits in China and the United States.

A “big risk”. This Monday, January 9, researchers in Frontiers Europe magazine warned of the possible arrival on the continent of the “Yellow Dragon” epidemic that is currently decimating citrus crops in China but also in the United States.

If certain factors come together, namely the combined presence of an insect and an Asian bacterium devastating citrus, Europe could experience a powerful “yellow kite epidemic,” according to the researchers.

This disease, named Huanglongbing (HLB), is the deadliest citrus crop in the world, according to the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).

A worrying situation

Although this disease has been decimating crops for major producers such as China and the United States since the 2000s, five years ago researchers in Spain and Portugal discovered the presence of the African psyllid Trioza erytreae, an insect that can transmit HLB.

There is also an Asian bacterium called CLas, which “does the most damage and causes trees to die very quickly,” Bernard Reynaud, lead author of the study and director of a CIRAD/Reunion University research unit, told AFP.

A situation that is all the more worrying as researchers previously thought the disease could only spread with the help of the Asian aphid, Diaphorina citri, from a different family than the African aphid, although both are viable. .

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The likelihood of spread of the disease in citrus is therefore diverse, increasing the likelihood of rapid spread: “If the Asian disease (in Europe) returns, we risk a major pandemic,” warned Bernard Reynaud, regretting inappropriate control agents. Especially since the CLas bacterium was recently discovered in Ethiopia and Kenya near the Mediterranean basin.

In order to contain the epidemic for the time being, the researchers recommended increased surveillance of plant imports and suggested the idea of ​​checking and quarantining products in suspected cases.