Insights into the epidemiology of Pierce's disease in vineyards of Mallorca, Spain.
Xylella fastidiosa (Xf), the causal agent of Pierce's disease (PD), has long been considered a major threat to prosperous European viticulture. In May of 2017, PD was officially detected on a grapevine in Mallorca. To better understand the epidemiology of the first established outbreak of PD in Europe, the disease incidence and severity were assessed, vector transmission experiments were performed, and cultivar responses to Xf infections both in the field and in inoculation experiments were monitored. The genetic structure of Xf local populations was also investigated by multilocus sequence typing analysis, and their whole genome sequences and phylogenetic positions compared with respect to PD strains worldwide. Disease incidence was moderately low (0.07) and highly variable, ranging from 0.0 to 0.99. Its economic impact on wine production was considered low. Vineyards managed under conventional viticulture were significantly less infected than organic farming. Under greenhouse conditions, the insect Philaenus spumarius efficiently transmitted the pathogen from infected to healthy grapevines. In the inoculation experiments, Xf infected, to some degree, 29 of the 30 cultivar × rootstock combinations (n=239). Cultivars Viura, Gorgollasa and Sauvignon Blanc were the most susceptible ones. All Xf isolates from grapevines belonged to sequence type ST1; they phylogenetically clustered within the Californian ST1 clade, with which they shared a 99.94% identity and the same plasmid. In addition, ST1 caused almond leaf scorch disease, where notably its incidence (0.78) and severity was much higher than PD. The likely reasons for these wide differences are discussed in the context of a 20-year Xf introduction scenario.