Wine Industry Newsletter

WA Grape Germplasm Collection infection-free for 10 years

Grape Germplasm Collection
WA Grapevine Germplasm Collection vines, Manjimup, Western Australia

Recent virus testing has confirmed the WA Grape Germplasm Collection has recorded no new infections of Grapevine leafroll associated virus (GLRaV) -1 and -3 for 10 years (2010-2019).

This is attributed in part to the successful management of known virus vector Latania scale (Hemiberlesia lataniae). GLRaV causes a disease of grapevines and it is considered one of the most economically destructive among the virus and virus-like diseases infecting grapevines world-wide. Vines infected with GLRaV are reported to have reduced growth, reduced yields, delays in grape maturity and increased sensitivity to environmental stress. There are about 11 different viruses associated with GLRaV. The two of the greatest concern in WA are GLRaV-1 and GLRaV-3.

GLRaV is primarily introduced into vineyards as infected planting material. It may also be transmitted through grafting and insect vectors. These insect vectors include mealybugs and scale insects. Three common vectors for GLRaV in WA include longtailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus), grapevine scale (Parthenolecanium persicae) and Latania scale.

Virus testing for GLRaV-1 and GLRaV-3 is applied to one third of the WA Grape Germplasm Collection every year. This testing is by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and is used to maintain the high health status of this nationally recognised resource. This collection has also had some varieties DNA tested and ampelography undertaken to ensure trueness-to-type.

There are 135 varieties and 191 clones of wine, table, multipurpose and drying and rootstock material held in the WA Grape Germplasm Collection. The management of this collection is a partnership between DPIRD and the Western Australian Vine Improvement Association (WAVIA). Material is accessible to industry through the WAVIA website.

DPIRD and WAVIA are currently contributing to the Wine Australia project development of a publicly accessible Australian Grapevine Germplasm Register. This is in direct response to the Australian wine sector’s request for such a register.

Wine Australia have engaged Libby Tassie from Tassie Viticultural Consulting to lead this work. The benefits of a germplasm register include:

  • Assurance of identity / trueness-to-type of vine material, to support label integrity claims
  • Knowledge of the geographic location of the ‘best available’ planting material
  • Identification of back-up sources of known virus status material allowing a repository of healthy vine material for replanting purposes
  • Preservation of heritage and unique varieties and clones.

The WA Grape Germplasm Collection's management is funded by DPIRD, and remains a valuable resource for the national industry due to its health status, isolation and biosecurity position.