Xylella fastidiosa: import restrictions

Xylella fastidiosa is an invasive bacterial plant pathogen that causes significant environmental and economic impacts. Many commercial and ornamental plant species are susceptible to the pathogen, and as testing increases more plant species are identified as capable of being infected. Xylella is spreading around the world, and although it is not present in Australia it is of major concern to Australia’s plant industries.

The following measures apply to those who import nursery stock, tissue cultures and corms, bulbs and plant tissue cultures that are hosts of X. fastidiousa including:

  • by the government of the exporting country X. fastidiosa occurs will need to be tested offshore and certified as being free from X. fastidiosanursery stock and plant material coming from countries or regions where
  • an approved arrangement that ensures the health of plants will need to be in place for off-shore testing and certification of nursery stock from high risk countries
  • material that does not meet the above requirements may be held and tested in an approved quarantine facility for 12 months or nursery stock material may be hot water treated, followed by standard post entry quarantine screening arrangements.

Detailed information about the required measures for tissue culture are outlined in the link below as well as requirements for other forms of nursery stock.  These emergency measures apply to all the plant species in the listed regulated families of plants (refer to Appendix 3 via the link below).

  • The bacterium has spread from the Americas to Europe with recent detection in France and Italy. It is very difficult to eradicate with the only current control method being to destroy the entire crop. The outbreaks in Italy and France have been devastating to local farmers. It is currently causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage in the Americas.
  • Xylella affects a range of commercially important plants in addition to cut flower varieties including wine and table grapes, citrus, olives, forestry and amenity trees, almonds, cherries, peaches, plums, avocados, blueberries, coffee, pecans and alfalfa.
  • Many plant species show no symptoms when they are infected and many are traded internationally as nursery stock.

The new quarantine requirements will affect imports of plant material from the Americas and a number of countries outside of those regions including some in Europe and Asia. Volumes of some ornamental plant material including all bulb flowers permitted entry to Australia have been reduced and the costs of importing is likely to increase in the longer term as laboratory testing and longer observation times in quarantine will be required.  Material exempt from these emergency conditions:

  • Seed import conditions will not be affected, as the pathogen is not known to transmit via this pathway.
  • Nursery stock, tissue cultures and corms and bulbs under current post entry quarantine in Australia (but all others will be banned from entry from March 2016 until further notice).
  • Plant species that are known not to be a host for Xylella.

For more detailed information including all of the relevant appendices please go to the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources website.