Development of a method to detect Agrobacterium vitis (Crown Gall) in vines

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  • An ongoing cooperation project for the "Development of a method for production of Agrobacterium vitis (Crown Gall) -free vines" between the RLP AgroScience GmbH, the Rebschule Steinmann and the IDENTXX GmbH, promoted by ZIM (Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand)

Crown Gall is the most important bacterial disease on vines in the winegrowing areas of Northern and Eastern Europe. In particular harsh frosts in winter make the vines more susceptible and can cause severe disease outbreaks with complete die back. The causal agent is the Gram-negative bacterium Agrobacterium vitis. Primarily, the propagation material which bears latent infections is considered the crucial source for distribution of the bacteria. Thus, the business of vine breeding and grafting is affected. Due to the increasing risk of harsh winters, some East European winegrowing countries demand a proof for A. vitis –free propagation material for their import. Within the frame of the research cooperation new methods and procedures will be established to produce A. vitis -free propagation material.

mauke.jpg Crown Gall on stem of grapevine

The first step includes the detection of latent infections in propagation material. Therefore, IDENTXX develops a direct extraction method of the Agrobacterium-DNA together with a consequent specific detection of A. vitis using real-time-PCR. In order to locate the pathogen in the plant visually, a GFP-expressing A. vitis strain will be produced. Finally, the development of a test calendar (temporal and spatial coincidence of the pathogen in the plant) will enable the establishment of a safe, fast and robust detection procedure on the base of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). To ensure the absence of A. vitis in propagation material, possible infection sources during production will be examined and resulting improvements considered.