Characterisation and detection of Pythium and Phytophthora species associated with grapevines in South Africa
Replant and decline diseases of grapevines not only cause quantitative and qualitative yield losses, but also result in extra costs when vineyards have to be replanted. This study investigated the role of Pythium and Phytophthora in the decline syndrome in South Africa by determining (1) the species associated with nursery and established vines, and (2) pathogenicity of Ph. sp. niederhauserii and P. vexans relative to known grapevine pathogens. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays were also developed for detection of the most prevalent oomycete groups. In total, 26 Pythium and three Phytophthora species were identified from grapevine nurseries and established vineyards. The most common infections in sampled nursery vines were caused by P. vexans (16.7%), followed by P. ultimum var. ultimum (15.0%) and P. irregulare (11.7%). In established vineyards, P. irregulare (18.0%) and P. vexans (6.2%) were also among the three most prevalent species, along with P. heterothallicum (7.3%). Three Phytophthora species were also identified from the sampled established vines, of which Ph. cinnamomi (5.1%) was predominant, followed by Ph. sp. niederhauserii (1.1%). In established vineyards a higher incidence and more diverse species composition was observed in spring and winter, than in summer. Pathogenicity studies showed that some Ph. sp. niederhauserii and P. vexans isolates were as aggressive as the known grapevine pathogens Ph. cinnamomi and P. irregulare. Sensitive qPCR assays were developed for the detection of P. ultimum var. ultimum, P. irregulare, P. vexans and the genus Phytophthora. These assays will be invaluable in limiting pathogen dispersal through screening of nursery material. This is especially important since pathogenic species were also isolated from healthy looking vines in nurseries. © 2011 KNPV.