"Footballs" damage wine

New parasite ensures the dying of root tissue

"Fu ball" permanent spores of Sorosphaera viticola University of Innsbruck
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Scientists from the Universities of Innsbruck and Mainz have discovered a hitherto unknown parasite in the roots of the grapevine. They came across masses of "footballs" that turned out to be permanent spores of a hitherto unknown parasite. Sorosphaera viticola, so the name of the pest belongs to the group of slime molds and ensures the death of root tissue. Thus, according to the researchers, he opens the "door" for other pests.

The new parasite was detected as part of an interdisciplinary study investigating the influence of various plant-damaging soil fungi on grapevine dying.

With the help of permanent spores, Sorosphaera viticola can survive in the soil for a long time. This fact is important because the parasite can only live in the presence of the host plant. It is known that permanent spores of other organisms of the group of parasitic slime molds can "slumber" in the soil for up to 30 years.

Related to Sorosphaera viticola are, according to the scientists, also known and dreaded pathogens of various plant diseases: the powder scab of the potato, the so-called Klumpfüßigkeit the cabbage and the Wurzelbärtigkeit the sugar beet. Other relatives of the new parasite transmit more than 20 different cereal viruses.

Specific damage symptoms are examined

Initial studies of the damage caused by Sorosphaera viticola symptoms have so far only revealed that small areas of dead root tissue associated with an infection of the parasite. Although this circumstance alone does not have a negative impact on the growth of the vine, it does open doors to other parasites of the vine. display

In addition, the researchers also want to check whether Sorosphaera viticola transmits viruses, as the vectors of many viruses of the grapevine are still unknown. At the moment work is underway to find out more about the frequency, other symptoms and a possible virus transmission of Sorosphaera viticola.

Good "camouflaged" pest?

The only question is: how could a parasite such as Sorosphaera viticola remain undiscovered in one of the world's oldest crops? The answer is related to investigation preferences in research: Above all, aboveground damage and disease symptoms of the vine are analyzed in the vineyard.

Soil studies have been conducted mainly on phylloxera since the late 19th century, as this pest was the dominant problem in viticulture since its introduction from America in 1860. The study carried out by the Innsbruck and Mainz scientists was one of the first to study not only the phylloxera but also the fungi in the soil and the roots of the grapevine.

(Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck, 20.12.2005 - DLO)