I was employed by Corbans Viticulture to look for the fungal cause of Esca disease in New Zealand grapevines. Esca is a disease complex varying in symptoms from Petri decline to full-blown Esca, with or without white rot decay. There are several fungal species that are implicated including Phaeomoniella chlamydospora, Stereum hirsutum, Phaeoacremonium aleophilum, and Fomitiporia mediterranea. I did an extensive survey of several vineyard blocks in Auckland by cutting open 20 year+ old grapevine trunks and isolating fungi from the wood. I found that Phaeomoniella chlamydospora was abundant, causing black goo symptoms, but I did not find white rot nor the fungi that cause it. I also found three new Phaeoacremonium species: Phaeoacremonium armeniacum, Phaeoacremonium globosum, Phaeoacremonium occidentale. During this work I also developed a database t-RFLP diagnostic system using TRAMPR.
Publications from this research
Graham A.B., Johnston P.R., and B.S. Weir (2009) Three new Phaeoacremonium species on grapevines in New Zealand. Australasian Plant Pathology. 38(5): 505–513. doi:10.1071/AP09035
Weir, B.S. and Graham, A.B. (2008) Development of an advanced PCR technique to detect grapevine trunk diseases. The Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker. 532: 27–29. Free PDF
Weir, B.S. and Graham A.B. (2009) Simultaneous identification of multiple fungal pathogens and endophytes with database t-RFLP. Phytopathologia Mediterranea. 48(1) Sp. Iss. SI: 163–164. Poster