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Researchers analyze how the fungus that causes verticillium wilt attacks olive trees


by Asociacion RUVID

Researchers from the Universities of Valencia and Cordoba, as well as from the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), have studied the fungus that causes verticilosis, a disease that kills millions of olive trees. Through the observation of the olive root microbiome, they conclude that verticillium wilt is driven by a wide community of microorganisms that unite to attack plants, making researchers rethink how to cope with it. The results have been published in the prestigious journal BMC Plant Biology.

The work has its origin in the Master's Degree Thesis of Luis F. Arias-Giraldo, who completed the Bioinformatics Master at the University of Valencia. This course was supervised by researchers from the Institute for Integrative Systems Biology (I2SysBio) Vicente Arnau and Wladimiro Díaz, and Carlos P. Garay from the CSIC.

Verticillium wilt is one of the most devastating pests for the olive grove and one of the main phytosanitary problems in the sector. The disease, also known as "Root rot," is caused by a fungus –Verticillium dahliae– that remains in infected soils, colonizes the roots and clogs the vascular system until the plant dies, producing effects similar to those of a severe drought.

Vicente Arnau, professor at the department of Computer Architecture and Technology, points out that the infection is analyzed from the point of view of systems biology: "We do not focus on the interaction between two species. We analyze how all the species in the ecosystem of the olive tree interact."

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