Researcher: Dr. L. Mostert - 10 Jun 2016

Black foot disease occurs mainly in nurseries and young vineyards. Research has shown that grapevine nursery plants get infected, after planting, by black foot pathogens present in the soil. Besides hot water treatment of dormant grafted nursery vines, there are no known treatments currently in use that is consistently providing effective control of black foot disease pathogens.

Trichoderma spp. has the potential to be used to control the infection of black foot pathogens and has the added benefit of growth promotion. Trichoderma spp. activates plant host defence genes, which prime the plant against pathogen attack. The efficacy of Trichoderma spp. towards the different fungal pathogens causing black foot has not been determined. Various Trichoderma products are available for grapevine pruning wound application. These have however not been tested for root application which means there are currently no registered Trichoderma products for this purpose.

Trichoderma products are routinely used in nurseries world-wide and therefore needs to be optimised locally. This study will be the first to visualise Trichoderma colonization and growth inside of grapevine roots and follow host defence gene activation, in planta. Understanding the efficacy and mode of action of Trichoderma applied to grapevine roots would aid in selecting effective Trichoderma isolates. This study is essential as a first step in evaluating the use of Trichoderma spp. as a biocontrol fungus in nurseries and new vineyards and to refine the application method.

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