Xylella fastidiosa is a bacterial pathogen, transmitted by insects such as froghoppers and sharpshooters that feed on the xylem.
The pathogen infects more than 500 species including crops, ornamental plants, and trees. Infected plants show leaf scorching and loss of leaves or fruit, and infected plants will eventually die. Xylella has not been reported in the UK but the disease could be introduced via infected insects or plants. Were the disease to become established there would be consequences for horticulture, forestry and crop production, and natural ecosystems, with economic, environmental and social impacts.
BRIGIT is a multidisciplinary consortium comprised of ten leading UK research organisations that will develop new methods to detect the bacterium and develop greater understanding of factors that could contribute to its entry and dispersal in the UK.
Gerard’s role in the project is to interact with stakeholders in government, the trade, non-governmental organisations and the funding agencies to ensure that the needs of stakeholders are met.
He is responsible for ensuring that evidence-based policy needs are fulfilled, for developing an open policy making framework, and for engaging with industry through a two-way dialogue.