Detection and treatment of esca infected grapevines

ESR code: 
Prof Ricardo Boavida Ferreira (Instituto Superior de Agronomia)
Host instution: 
Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Lisbon (Portugal)

The available evidence points to a dark future for viticulture (and subsequently for the wine industry) in what esca is concerned. Infection of vine wood with Phaeomoniella chlamydospora (Pch) leads to externally asymptomatic plants, yet capable of disseminating the disease. The subsequent entry of saprophytic fungi condemns the vine to an early death. Neither resistant Vitis species and varieties nor treatment or cure are known for esca, as the fungal pathogens grow out of the reach of systemic fungicides. A recent study showed that between 10 and 70% of stems and grafts leaving European nurseries are infected with Pch.

This project will include the following major lines: use of a patented X-ray based methodology to develop a prototype capable of efficient in-line screening of vine plants leaving nurseries; selection of an array of substances (fungicides included) capable of killing in vitro the main fungi responsible for the esca complex of diseases; elucidation of the chemical composition of black-goo; metagenomic analysis to characterize the grapevine wood microbiome from ‘healthy’ and esca-infected plants, as well as the way it is affected by injecting the ‘fungicides’ selected above.

Further information

ESR at work: 
Early Stage Researcher: 
Giovanni Del Frari