POnTE is a four-year research project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020), call SFS-03a-2014: Sustainable food production systems-Native and alien pests in agriculture and forestry. The Project focused on the investigation of genetics, biology, epidemiology, vector ecology and economic impacts of three pathosystems that threaten strategic crops and natural landscapes in the EU with the aim to identify economically, technically feasible and environmentally sustainable integrated management strategies for their containment. See http://www.ponteproject.eu/

The CNR Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection has the coordination of the project and will represent the intermediary between the European Commission (EC) and the Consortium as well as the promoter and supervisor of the overall technical and scientific progress of POnTE.


  • Xylella fastidiosa and hemipteran vector species. The harmful Gram-negative bacteria Xf is involved in a new and severe olive disease (Olive Quick Decline Syndrome – OQDS) firstly reported in 2013 in southern Italy (Apulia region, Salento peninsula). Xf isolated in Italy has been identified as a novel and distinct genotype (hereafter denoted as “CoDiRO Xf strain”), showing phylogenetic relationship with isolates of Xf subsp. pauca infecting oleander in Costa Rica. Although Xfis widely distributed in the Americas due to diseases caused in grapevine, citrus, fruit trees, and landscape plants, the first confirmed presence of Xf in the EU constitutes a novel and emerging threat for European agriculture.
  • Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ and psyllid vector species. CaLsol is a recently described phloem-limited, Gram-negative, not culturable bacterium that has emerged as one of the most important pathogens affecting potato and other solanaceous crops (i.e. tomato and pepper) in the Americas and New Zealand. Recently EPPO has recommended member countries to regulate solanaceous haplotypes of CaLsol and its psyllid vector Bactericera cockerelli as quarantine pests, since non-solanaceous CaLsol haplotypes have now been found in Europe associated with diseased carrots and celery. The emergence of these CaLsol haplotypes in carrots and celery has raised serious concerns about the risk that they pose to potato and other solanaceous crops across the whole EU.
  • Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (anamorph. Chalara fraxinea) and new and exotic Phytophthora species. Hp is a pathogen introduced, for the first time in Poland in 2006, via plant trade, mainly affecting common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and the narrow-leafed ash (F. angustifolia). The disease is usually fatal and has now been reported in most continental European countries as a very serious threat to ash populations. In addition, an increasing number of new emerging diseases affecting forest trees caused by several Phytophthora spp. is leading to significant economic losses and pose considerable risks to natural ecosystems. The knowledge of the genus Phytophthora is still limited and some hybrid species are still evolving, potentially increasing the risk of colonization of new forest hosts.


The overall structure of the project can be broken down into 11 work packages (WPs):

  • WP1 Aetiology of emerging disease affecting relevant crops and forestry. Elucidate the role of known and/or new characterized pests and harmful organisms associated with emerging diseases affecting relevant crops and forests.
  • WP2 Biology and pathogenesis. Gain knowledge about the virulence, the pathogenicity and the host range of the target pathogens.
  • WP3 Genotyping and genetic structure of pathogen populations. Development of genetic information on the new emerging pathogens and definition of the genetic structure of the pathogen populations.
  • WP4 Implementation and validation of diagnostics for early and rapid detection of target pathogens in host plants and vectors. Development of accurate and rapid diagnostic assays for the innovation and implementation of the procedures adopted for the survey and surveillance programs. Development of strain-specific serological and molecular markers for pathogen population monitoring.
  • WP5 Vector pathogen identification and disease epidemiology. This WP aims at identifying the key insect vectors of Xf in the contaminated areas and elucidating the role of the different psyllid species in the CaLsol epidemics.
  • WP6 Field and automated surveillance system for vector and disease monitoring. Exploit surveillance strategies for effective monitoring programs, i.e. testing and validating remote sensing approaches for early detection and identification of areas with potentially infected sites to be prioritized for lab testing and subsequent containment and eradication actions.
  • WP7 Signaling pathway, molecules and genes contributing to pest resistance in field. Gain knowledge on potential resistance mechanisms studying interactions among signalling pathways involved in plant defence responses, identifying genes and molecules for potential applications for protection against pests as well as beneficial micro-organisms for an effective biocontrol.
  • WP8 Plant disease risk assessment and support for Plant Health decision making. To develop new quantitative tools for risk assessment of invasive species detrimental to plant health, including economic evaluation of risk mitigation options, and assessment of climate and other global change influences on pest risk.
  • WP9 Integrated disease management and mitigation strategies. To design and to assay managing, environmentally friendly and innovative, mitigation strategies based on epidemiological data and on three pillars: seed treatments, reduction or elimination of vector population, and cultural or innovative IPM practices.
  • WP10 Dissemination of technical and scientific results and demonstrative trials. The main objective of this work package is to promote the project internal and external visibility in order to raise an awareness and provide adequate advice.
  • WP11 Management of the consortium. The project management ambitions is to guarantee the correct implementation of the activities, the achievement of the project objectives and expected results.


  • Discovery of biomolecules that can be patented, manufactured, formulated and applied to prevent or reduce host colonization (i.e. DSF for Xf)
  • Chemical compounds that prevent vectors, like spittlebug, sharpshooters or psyllid, to acquire Xf or CaLsol
  • Selection of tolerant or resistant varieties
  • Discovery of endophytic bacteria that can cross protect against Xf
  • Development of early detection of the pathogens that can be applied for inspection at port of entry to interdict the exotic pathogens and pests
  • Discovery of an optimal biological control agent for vectors of Xf and CaLsol
  • Regulatory testing of seeds of crops susceptible to CaLsol
  • Development of pest management regimes to mitigate the impact and the further spread of emerging diseases and alien pests.


POnTE consortium involves 25 participants, including scientific and end user partners, distributed in 10 EU and 3 extra-EU countries.

  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante UOS Bari (CNR-IPSP), Italy
  • Università degli Studi Aldo Moro – Dipartimento di Scienze del Suolo, della Pianta e degli Alimenti (UNIBA), Italy
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France
  • Agence Nationale de Securite Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail – Laboratoire de la Santé des Végétaux (ANSES), France
  • Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias – Plant Protection and Agro-Engineering (IVIA), Spain
  • Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas – Institute For Sustainable Agriculture and Institute Of Agricultural Sciences (CSIC), Spain
  • Scottish Government – Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture Edinburgh (SG), United Kingdom
  • Forestry Commission Research Agency- Centre for Ecosystems, Society & Biosecurity (FR), United Kingdom
  • Bundesforschungs-und Ausbildungszentrum für Wald, Naturgefahren und Landschaft – Forest Protection (BFW), Austria
  • Maa Ja Elintarviketalouden Tutkimuskesk – Plant Production Research (MTT), Finland
  • Wageningen University – Department of Social Sciences (WU), The Netherlands
  • Norwegian Institute For Agricultural And Environmental Research – Bioforsk – Plant Health and Plant Protection (Bioforsk), Norway
  • University of Costa Rica – Centro de Investigación en BiologíaCelular y Molecular (UCR), Costa Rica
  • The Agricultural Research Organisation Of Israel – The Volcani Centre – Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Sciences (ARO), Israel
  • Faculty Of Agriculture – University of Belgrade (FA), Serbia
  • Certis Europe B.V. – Development and Registration Certis Europe B.V., The Netherlands
  • Aurea Imaging BVBA, Belgium
  • Vilmorin & Cie Vilmorin, France
  • Loewe Biochemica GmbH, Germany
  • Phytophthora Research and Consultancy (PRC), Germany
  • Acli Racale Soc. Agr. Coop. (ACLI), Italy
  • Agritest S.r.l., Italy
  • Fundacion Citoliva, Centro De Innovacion Y Tecnologia Del Olivar Y Del Aceite, Spain
  • Agricola Villena Coop. V., Spain
  • A.L. Tozer Ltd., United Kingdom



  • Dr. D. Boscia, Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante UOS Bari (CNR-IPSP), Italy


  • Dr. M. Saponari, Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante UOS Bari (CNR-IPSP), Italy
  • Dr. M.M. Lopez, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Spain
  • Dr. A. Nissinen, Maa Ja Elintarviketalouden Tutkimuskesk (MTT), Finland
  • Dr. A. Perez-Sierra, Forestry Commission Research Agency (FR), United Kingdom


For further information please contact:

Project Coordinator Unit

CNR- Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante (IPSP)
UOS Bari
via Amendola, 122/D – 70126 Bari, Italy
Phone: +39.080.5442538 – +39.080.5442932
Fax: +39 0805929230
E-mail: info@ponteproject.eu


Research staff