Analysis of soil microbiome in Esca vineyards

by | Nov 29, 2019 | South Africa Wine Scan

In this study, researchers wanted to study the microbial community in the soil of an older, Esca infected vineyard. It is known that microbes can stimulate and modulate plant responses and that the ecosystem of above ground microbes in vineyards is linked to soil microbes.


  • A 20 year old vineyard was selected and the study was conducted over four seasons.
  • Bacterial and fungal communities of the soil were investigated.
  • Samples were taken from soil around vines that showed symptoms of Esca, while the other samples were taken from soils around asymptomatic vines.
  • Meta barcoding was the technique used to identify the microbes.
  • This was the first, comprehensive study of the soil microbiome in an Esca infected vineyard.


  • Results indicated no difference in the abundance of microbes between the samples.
  • From soil samples surrounding Esca infected vines, Esca-related pathogens as well as grapevine trunk disease pathogens were more prolific compared to samples from healthy vines. This could mean that soil is potentially a major source of inoculum.
  • Two fungal genera, Curvularia and Coprinopsis were exclusively found in soil samples from healthy vines. Furthermore, Actinobacteria were extremely abundant in soil samples from asymptomatic vines. The latter are symbiotic bacteria.


Esca is an economically significant disease affecting vineyards. The species diversity and number of microbes within a community, depends on a number of factors such as climate and viticultural practices. Microorganisms identified in this study that are associated with soils surrounding asymptomatic vines, need to be investigated further. They could play a role in suppressing or controlling the development and/or spread of Esca related pathogens.

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