Australia's Hort Innovation is funding a new project aimed at building the country's capability to detect and control Xylella fastidiosa, should it ever enter the country.
The harmful bacterium has been dubbed the number one plant biosecurity threat to Australia. It is transmitted by common sap-sucking insects such as spittlebugs and sharpshooters.
The impact of Xylella overseas has been catastrophic, infecting more than 200 million citrus trees in Brazil. It has also destroyed one million olive trees in Italy and devastated the Californian grape sector, Hort Innovation said.
The pathogen - not yet present in Australia or New Zealand - can cause significant damage to many important crops. These include grapevines, olives, nuts, citrus, stone fruit, blueberries and cherries.
In fact, over 500 cultivated and uncultivated herbaceous and woody plant species are known hosts of Xylella.