Dr. Regina Billones-Baaijens attended the 10th International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases in Reims, France. The workshop was held at the Centre des Congres, sale Clovis, Reims, France on 4-7 July 2017. She presented orally the new molecular tools she developed to detect and quantify Eutypa dieback (ED) and Botryosphaeria dieback (BD) pathogen inoculum from the environment. She further presented the preliminary results of the spore dispersal patterns of ED and BD pathogens in four wine growing regions in Australia using the above-mentioned molecular tools. These studies were part of the recently completed research on Practical Management of Grapevine Trunk Diseases (SAR 1205) funded by Wine Australia (WA). Dr. Billones-Baaijens was also co-author of four additional oral presentations and four poster presentations at this workshop. Key plant pathologists and specialists in grapevine trunk diseases participated in the workshop and the information gathered provided her with the latest information on the diagnostic tools and epidemiology of grapevine trunk diseases. The information gained from this workshop will be transferred to Australian grape growers and industry personnel via future oral presentations and industry articles.
Eutypa dieback (ED) and botryosphaeria dieback (BD) are serious diseases of grapevines worldwide causing cankers, dieback and eventually the death of vines. These grapevine trunk diseases rank in the top five priority diseases of the Australian wine grape industry (GWR08/04). The diseases persist in affected vines from season to season, causing long term decline. They are becoming more prevalent as vineyards age and are a threat to the Australian wine industry, which contributes $40 billion to the economy.
The International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases (IWGTD) is organised by the International Council on Grapevine Trunk diseases (ICGTD) every two years to discuss recent research on the etiology, epidemiology and control strategies of different grapevine trunk diseases including BD, ED, young vine decline and other trunk disease pathogens. Key plant pathologists and specialists in grapevine diseases and other grapevine industry stakeholders participated in the workshop. This forum is an important opportunity for Australian researchers to exchange information on grapevine trunk diseases and to keep updated on the latest research findings in grapevine trunk disease (GTD) research.
The workshop attracted ~220 participants from 27 countries particularly European countries including France, Italy and Spain. There were also representatives from the USA, Canada, South America, China, Middle East and New Zealand. Of the four participants from Australia, three delegates Dr. Mark Sosnowski (SARDI), Dr. Billones-Baaijens and Mr. Matthew Ayres (SARDI) are on the project team of the recently Wine Australia-funded research “Grapevine Trunk Disease Management for Vineyard Longevity in Diverse Climates of Australia” (SAR 1601). Ayres and Billones-Baaijens received Wine Australia travel bursaries to attend the workshop.
The sessions at the workshop covered pathogen characterisation and identification, epidemiology, plant-pathogen interactions, microbial ecology and disease management in nurseries and vineyards. A total of five invited lectures of the main achievements and future prospects in GTD research, 49 papers and 92 posters were presented at the workshop. Dr. Billones-Baaijens presented two papers on the new molecular tools she developed to detect and quantify ED and BD pathogens in Australian vineyards and the preliminary results of spore trapping studies using these molecular tools. These studies were part of the recently completed research on Practical Management of Grapevine Trunk Diseases (SAR 1205) funded by Wine Australia. Dr. Billones-Baaijens was also a co-author of four oral presentations and four poster presentations at the workshop.
The workshop participants visited experimental vineyards near Epernay in the Champagne region. Some of the research conducted in these experimental vineyards include improving viticultural practices to increase yield and reduce impact of GTDs and breeding programs for varietal improvement and disease management. The field tour also included a visit to the cellar door and wine tasting at the Laison de Champagne Mercier.
Dr. Billones-Baaijens’ attendance at the 10th IWGTD was supported by the travel bursary from Wine Australia, the National Wine and Grape Industry (NWGIC) travel grant and her personal funds. Dr. Billones-Baaijens’ oral presentations showcased the research capabilities of the Australian researchers in the field of molecular biology and GTD epidemiology. Her attendance also strengthened her existing networks with international researchers and assisted in developed new links for future potential collaborations. She discussed with Dr. Jose Urbez-Torres (Summerland Research and Development Centre, BC Canada) and Dr. David Gramaje (Instituto de Ciencias De Vid Y Vino, Spain) potential collaborative research looking at GTD infection thresholds in propagation materials. She also established contact with Dr. Dario Cantu from the University of California – Davis and Dr. Moustafa Selim from Geisenheim University, Germany that may also lead to future collaborations between NWGIC and their respective institutions. Dr. Cantu is an expert in the field of bioinformatics and comparative genomics while Dr. Selim specialises in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, an imaging system used for the detection GTDs in plants. She was further invited to conduct a short seminar later in 2017 on her current research on GTDs in Australia by Assoc. Prof. Eirian Jones from Lincoln University, New Zealand.