Pest categorisation of the avocado sunblotch viroid
The EFSA Panel on Plant Health conducted a pest categorisation of the avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd) for the EU. The identity of ASBVd, a member of the genus Avsunviroid (family Avsunviroidae) is clearly defined and detection and identification methods are available. The pathogen is not included in the EU Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/2072. ASBVd has been reported in Australia, Ghana, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, USA (California, Florida) and Venezuela. In the EU, it has been reported in Greece (Crete Island) and Spain. The pathogen could establish in the EU wherever avocado (Persea americana) is grown. The only known natural host of ASBVd is avocado to which it causes the severe ‘avocado sunblotch’ disease, characterised by white, yellow, red or necrotic depressed areas or scars on the fruit surface, bleached veins and petioles of the leaf, and rectangular cracking patterns in the bark of the old branches. Fruit yield and quality are severely diminished. ASBVd infects under experimental conditions a few more species in the family Lauraceae. The viroid is naturally transmitted at an extremely high rate by seeds (up to 100% in asymptomatically infected trees), but with a low efficiency by pollen (only to the produced seeds), and possibly through root grafts. Plants for planting, including seeds, and fresh avocado fruits were identified as the most relevant pathways for further entry of ASBVd into the EU. Avocado crops are cultivated in southern EU countries. Should the pest further enter and establish in the EU, impact on the production of avocado is expected. Phytosanitary measures are available to prevent entry and spread of the viroid in the EU. ASBVd fulfils the criteria that are within the remit of EFSA to assess for it to be regarded as a potential Union quarantine pest.
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