New phylloxera research agreement
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries and the Australian Wine and Authority signed a two-year, $580,000 research agreement to help protect the wine industry from the serious grapevine pest phylloxera.
The research will boost the industry's defences against phylloxera by identifying the best disinfestation techniques and developing new management options to prevent its spread.
Phylloxera is a tiny insect native to North America which attacks the roots of grapevines and eventually kills them by preventing the uptake of water and nutrients.
Approximately 85 per cent of Australian vineyards are planted on phylloxera-susceptible Vitis vinifera. New detections in recent years have highlighted the continued threat posed by phylloxera to the Australian viticulture industry and the need for research into risk assessment, quarantine and rootstock management.
The new research will be conducted at Rutherglen and led by Principal Research Scientist and phylloxera authority Dr Kevin Powell.
The primary objectives of this project are to determine the effect of different disinfestation treatments on endemic phylloxera strain survival and develop effective management options to restrict their further spread and establish robust preparedness and post-incursion management plans in the event of incursion of exotic phylloxera strains.
This will be achieved by:
- Validating existing phylloxera disinfestation procedures focusing particularly on heat and/or liquid immersion treatment of machinery, equipment (National Phylloxera Management Protocols 2009), plant material and footwear against six endemic strains, to ensure the procedures' robustness against existing endemic strains and potential new exotic incursions.
- Developing and testing potential novel grower-friendly phylloxera disinfestation procedures for use on-farm to reduce the risk of phylloxera transfer on clothing, footwear and farm vehicles. Testing will be conducted against six endemic strains, to ensure the procedures' robustness against existing endemic strains and potential exotic incursions.
- Evaluating the effect of fruit homogenisation as a potential disinfestation protocol for transportation of diagnostic samples particularly, but not exclusively, for smoke taint analysis.
- Informing, engaging and maintaining awareness of phylloxera risks to the viticulture industry through the provision of updates on a regular basis with industry biosecurity committees, large commercial wine companies and other groups, as appropriate.