Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Research targets costly grapevine disease

MEDIA RELEASE

1 July 2014
_____________________________________________________

Research targets costly grapevine disease

The New Zealand wine industry is better equipped to battle a devastating plant pathogen that is costing the country tens of millions of dollars each year, thanks to new research carried out by Vaughn Bell, a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington.
Economic losses from Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 total tens of millions of dollars in New Zealand alone (a country that accounts for 0.9% of world wine production). The virus is transmitted by insects called mealybugs, which spread the disease while feeding on grapevines. Leafroll 3 reduces grapes’ sugar content, flavour and yields—particularly for premium red-grape varieties such as Pinot Noir.

There is no cure for leafroll 3 and, once infected, vines eventually succumb to the disease, leaving growers with no option but to remove them and replant entire vineyards at considerable expense.

Vaughn, a scientist with The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited based in Havelock North, has shown that the virus can be accurately diagnosed by visual assessment on red varieties. Growers can then remove individual infected vines annually—a process known as ‘roguing’.

The research has also demonstrated that only infected vines need to be removed, not the healthy nearest neighbouring vines as well, as was previously assumed. In addition, Vaughn’s work has added much-needed clarity to the relationship between the disease and the mealybugs that carry it.

“The complete elimination of mealybugs from vineyards is not needed and would probably be impossible,” says Vaughn, “but to control the virus, we do need low population densities of vectors. So growers must not only manage their infected vines, but also the mealybug populations in their vineyards.”

Vaughn completed both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Victoria University. His doctoral research is supported by New Zealand Winegrowers, the national wine industry organisation, and Plant & Food Research.

Vaughn’s supervisors, Professor Phil Lester from Victoria University and Professor Gerhard Pietersen from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, say his work is significant and demonstrates the value of dedicated scientific research for New Zealand wine and viticulture.

For the past five years, Vaughn has been a key team member of a New Zealand Winegrowers’ project that is tackling both leafroll 3 and mealybugs in participating vineyards.

The project, co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund, extends over Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough. Using protocols that incorporate findings from Vaughn’s research, many vineyard managers have been able to reduce disease incidence to less than one percent, improving the longevity and economic viability of their vineyards.

“Vaughn’s work has helped halt the spread of leafroll 3 within New Zealand vineyards,” says Dr Simon Hooker, General Manager Research at New Zealand Winegrowers. “His ongoing engagement with the sector has also helped generate greater awareness among growers about the disease and the role played by mealybugs.”

Vaughn says his work on finding ways to reduce the impact of leafroll 3 is far from over.

“We've developed what seems to be an effective virus management programme in red-grape varieties. The next challenge is to do the same for the vines of white grape varieties which, when virus-infected, lack the visual symptoms.”


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Maritime: Navigation Safety Review Raises Big Issues For The Govt

Shipping Federation: "The reports makes it clear that the ratification of the Maritime Labour convention (MLC) is long overdue. Only when the MLC is ratified will Maritime NZ be able to inspect and enforce the labour conditions on international ships visiting our ports." More>>

ALSO:

100 Years After Einstein Prediction: Gravitational Waves Found

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos. More>>

Farming: Alliance Plans To Start Docking Farmer Payments

Alliance Group, New Zealand's second-largest meat cooperative, plans to start withholding some stock payments to its farmers from next week to bolster its balance sheet and force suppliers to meet their share requirements. More>>

ALSO:

Gambling: SkyCity First Half Profit Rises 30%, Helped By High Rollers

SkyCity anticipates the Auckland business will benefit from government gaming concessions which were triggered on Nov. 11 in recognition of SkyCity’s $470 million Convention Centre development. Morrison said the concessions would allow the Auckland business to lift its activity during peak period, noting it had a record revenue week over the Christmas and New Year period. More>>

ALSO:

Money For Light: Kiwi Scientists Secure Preferential Access To Synchrotron

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced a three-year investment of $2.8 million in the Australian Synchrotron, the largest piece of scientific infrastructure in the Southern Hemisphere, to secure preferential access for Kiwi scientists. More>>

Telco Industry Report: Investment Hits $1.7 Bln A Year

Investment in the telecommunications sector is $1.7 billion a year, proportionately one of the highest levels in the OECD, according to a report released today on the status of the New Zealand sector. More>>

ALSO:

PGPs: New Programme Sets Sights On Strong Wool

A new collaboration between The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), announced today, aims to deliver premiums for New Zealand's strong wool sector... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news