Grapevine and its intracellular pathogens

AG.P04.009 Intracellular pathogenic agents and genetic and sanitary improvement of grape germplasm

Viticulture represents one of  the most relevant sector in the Italian agro-food system. Grapevine, as well as other cultivated species, is highly susceptible to virus and phytoplasma infection which heavily menace the cultivation profitability. It is then necessary the study of those intracellular pathogens and their relationships with grapegrowing techniques, with particular regard to selection and propagation. All over the world official protocols has been issued in order to obtain grape propagation material genetically improved and free from the most harmful viruses and phytoplasmas. In addition grapes are mainly transformed into wines so the presence of the intracellular pathogens may interfere also on the enological characteristics of the final product.

The research lines of the ‘Commessa’ are aimed to face all the previous aspects thanks to the competences in viticulture, enology, ampelography, plant genetics, plant virology, molecular biology, serology and epidemiology of its research team. The experimental activity is carried out according to the following lines: 1) Virus and phytoplasma epidemiology and aetiology:  determinism of virus-like diseases; role of natural vectors and quantification of pathogen agents in the plant; natural spread of virus infection in the field; sanitation techniques; techniques for damage reduction due to phytoplasmas (water thermotherapy, recovery, elicitors). 2) Diagnostic and biotechnology applied to virus and phytoplasmas: design, validation and production of diagnostic tests and genetic markers; characterization of genetic variability of intracellular pathogens; plant genetic transformation (grape, tobacco, Arabidopsis) aimed to virus resistance and functional genomic studies; proteomics for studies on the phytoplasma agent of Flavescence dorèe. 3) Investigations on the effects of viral infection on the physiology and the cultural performances of vines and on the consequent modification in wine quality. 4) Genetic and sanitary improvement of table and wine grape cultivars focused to obtain selected clones for the nursery sector. 5) Genetics of grape biodiversity: genomics, characterization, preservation and valorisation of wild and cultivated grape germplasm.

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