The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently approved $3.4 million in funding for research focused on grapevine viruses. The decision was made the Pierce’s Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board meeting held at Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis. The Wine Communications Group reports that the money will be used for six research projects related to Pierce’s Disease (PD), along with nine other projects associated with additional viruses.
Some of the research projects to be funded in the fiscal year 2018-19 include the breeding of PD-resistant wine grapes, along with molecular breeding support for their development. There will also be research addressing the unknown areas of PD epidemiology, which includes genotypes, the pattern of spread and less well-known vectors. Funding will also be going towards the study of transgenic rootstock-mediated PD protection of grapevine scions.
The Board has had the ability to use funds that are collected through California wine industry assessments, for research and outreach on other pests and diseases since 2010. The Board research screening committee closely coordinates its’ efforts with the American Vineyard Foundation which also receives proposals for similar research projects.
Some high points of previously funded research include the investigation of the impact red blotch virus has on grape ripening and metabolism, along with the biology and role of treehoppers in relation to red blotch disease. Work has also be funded for the study of the seasonal ecology and transmission efficiency of insect vectors such as the three-cornered alfalfa hopper. Other research has looked at grapevine virus management in the Lodi area, along with the identification of cultivars and rootstocks that have resistance to vine mealybug.
Funding will also be provided to continue 11 ongoing projects that were previously approved by the Board. The projects are primarily focused on PD research, but also include other grapevine viruses.