|Foiling Fungal Pests|
Early Detection of Botrytis Bunch Rot
Gray mold disease, which on grapes is known as Botrytis bunch rot, affects most vegetable and fruit crops as well as many flowers, shrubs, trees, and weeds. For most of its interaction with grape berries, Botrytis lies dormant and causes no damage to the developing fruit. However, an unknown aspect of ripening triggers the pathogen to activate from its quiescent state and destroy grape berries. Plant pathologists are working on pinpointing when the pathogen activates and what genes are expressed in both host and fungus as their interaction sours. In this pursuit, GGRU scientists have applied a molecular technology to the detection and quantification of Botrytis as it grows within a developing grape. One application of this technology is the early detection of disease, so growers can apply effective control measures when needed.
Resisting powdery mildew
Powdery mildew is economically the most important fungal disease of grapes worldwide, and the world’s highest quality grapes are universally susceptible to the fungus. GGRU scientists have identified genes in Chardonnay that can be modified using traditional breeding techniques to provide resistance to powdery mildew. These same genes can be used for resistance in any raisin, wine, juice, or table grape cultivar, preventing losses to yield and quality. In addition, our scientists are working with North American grape breeders to provide molecular markers for the selection and pyramiding of resistance genes into new cultivars with durable disease resistance.