Development of a DNA-based method to identify mites



New Winetech funded project 2018 - The aim of this study is to provide the wine industry with a quick, accurate and cost-effective diagnostic test for the presence/absence of grapevine mites in plant material. The test will help with identification of the specific species, strains and populations. In turn, correlating specific genetic groups with plant symptoms and ecology will help to improve management of the pest.

Some important grapevine varieties (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon) seem to be particularly susceptible to mite attack. In vineyards, bud infertility, leaf and bunch malformation and shortened internodes may indicate grapevine budmite infestation. However, these symptoms may also have other causes, and microscopy is currently the only confirmation method. Due to taxonomic uncertainty, this process is difficult and often inconclusive.

The objective of this project is to design and validate a DNA-based test that will help to identify grapevine mite species, to clarify the ecology and to assess the levels of infestations in South African vineyards. These results will aid the industry in the development of strategies for the management, control and monitoring of the occurrence of this pest.

Researcher: Barbara van Asch



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