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Grapevine flavescence dorée symptoms © Sandrine Eveillard

Grapevine flavescence dorée

Alternative and sustainable control methods

Current research is looking for control strategies that will allow inputs to be reduced. They are based on new knowledge about the insect vector’s behaviour with a view to preventing mating or attracting the vector to a specific site to kill it in a targeted manner. Researchers are also looking for grapevines resistant to flavescence dorée.

By Pascale Mollier - Julien Chuche - Denis Thiéry - Daciana Papura - Sylvie Malembic - Alain Blanchard - Xavier Foissac, translated by Daniel McKinnon
Updated on 09/06/2016
Published on 03/26/2013

Antenna of Scaphoideus titanus, the grapevine leafhopper, under scanning electron microscope. This insect is responsible for disseminating flavescence dorée, a serious phytoplasmosis of grapevines. Almost spherical particles are found at the surface of the antenna retained by ornamentations. Called brochosomes, they contain a liquid with which the insect coats itself and which has a protective role. The bar scale is 2 µm.. © INRA, TAUBAN Dominique
Antenna of Scaphoideus titanus, the grapevine leafhopper, under scanning electron microscope. This insect is responsible for disseminating flavescence dorée, a serious phytoplasmosis of grapevines. Almost spherical particles are found at the surface of the antenna retained by ornamentations. Called brochosomes, they contain a liquid with which the insect coats itself and which has a protective role. The bar scale is 2 µm. © INRA, TAUBAN Dominique

Compulsory control plans for the vector are based on the use of synthetic insecticides and are polluting and costly. They may also lead to resistance in the long term and have negative effects on the environment. Current research seeks to develop control strategies that will allow inputs to be reduced.

Scrambling signals

Leafhoppers use vibrating signals sent through the vine to find its mate. Males produce vibrations that females feel and respond to if they are available. The intensity, wave length and frequency of the female’s vibrations communicate to the male her location and her availability. A possible leafhopper control technique would therefore be to artificially create vibrations to disrupt communication between males and females. Males would thus be unable to find females and would be unable to mate, or only have a greatly reduced opportunity to mate. Initial studies carried out in Italy were conclusive in both labs and in vineyards.

Using push–pull strategies

Push–pull strategies use attractive and repulsive stimuli simultaneously to manipulate insect behaviour. For example, grapevines may be made repulsive through the use of kaolin while attractive products, such as plant extracts of various American Vitis species, are used to attract the pests to an area where they will be killed. The concentration of insects in a specific area allows populations to be better controlled with less insecticide or through the use of targeted alternative methods. Push–pull techniques such as these have already had promising results in Israel against grapevine phytoplasma vectors such as Hyalesthes obsoletus.

The hunt for resistant vines

INRA researchers have started a programme looking for natural resistance to the phytoplasma and to the vector across the Vitis genus. The phenotyping studies are carried out by observing symptoms and measuring phytoplasma multiplication following infection by the vector in a high-level containment greenhouse. The objective in the short term is to identify the rootstock/graft combinations most resistant to the disease. In the long term, the aim is to identify the genetic basis of the resistance.

(1) Fruit Biology and Pathology Joint Research Unit (UMR 1332 BPF), in collaboration with the Grapevine Health and Wine Quality Joint Research Unit in Colmar (UMR 1131 SVQV) and the Ecophysiology and Grape Functional Genomics Joint Research Unit in Bordeaux (UMR 1287 EGFV).

Reference

Chuche, J., Thiéry, D and Mazzoni, V. 2011. Do Scaphoideus titanus (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) nymphs use vibrational communication? Naturwissenschaften. 98: 639-42.