Xylella fastidiosa in olive tree
Expert ecologists at the UK-based Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) have devised a scientific model which could help predict the spread of the deadly Xylella fastidiosa which is threatening to destroy Europe’s olive trees. The CEH scientists have created a model which is able to qualitatively and quantitatively predict how the deadly bacterial pathogen may spread as well as offer guidance on how buffer zones should be arranged to protect uninfected olive trees. The research, published in the journal Biological Invasions, highlights how Xylella fastidiosa is influenced by a range of insects – including spittlebugs – and the rate to which these vectors contribute to the potential spread of the disease across Europe and beyond.
From left: Professor Gerhard Wenz, Saarland University, Bernd Reinhard, INM, Günter Weber, Business Director, INM, Erold Naomab, University of Namibia, Professor Kenneth Matengu, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Namibia, Professor Aránzazu del Campo, Scientific Director, INM, Roland Rolles, Vice President, Saarland University, Carsten Becker-Willinger, Head of Project NaMiComp, INM.
The INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials officially began its collaborative effort with the University of Namibia (UNAM) by holding a kick-off workshop. The aim of the joint project, NaMiComp, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, is to analyze Namibia’s locally available natural resources and then use them as a basis for new materials for industrial applications. INM and UNAM are working together on the NaMiComp project in order to establish and strengthen research competence in materials science at UNAM. In the long term, the aim is to build an on-site materials science institute at the University of Namibia. The two-day long workshop, which was held at the INM, was the inaugural event for building this cooperation. Further multi-day workshops, reciprocal visits by experts, field surveys and learning cafés are set to follow.
Mosaic pneumococcal population structure caused by horizontal gene transfer is shown on the left for a subset of genes. Matrix on the right shows a genome-wide summary of the relationships between the bacteria, ranging from blue (distant) to yellow (closely related). Photo: Pekka Marttinen
Gene transfers are particularly common in the antibiotic-resistance genes of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
When mammals breed, the genome of the offspring is a combination of the parents' genomes. Bacteria, by contrast, reproduce through cell division. In theory, this means that the genomes of the offspring are copies of the parent genome. However, the process is not quite as straightforward as this due to horizontal gene transfer through which bacteria can transfer fragments of their genome to each other. As a result of this phenomenon, the genome of an individual bacterium can be a combination of genes from several different donors. Some of the genome fragments may even originate from completely different species.