Project leader: Prof Melané Vivier
Aim and industry relevance:
It is widely accepted that innovative new solutions are necessary to move away from our dependence on chemical control mechanisms against pests and diseases. Moreover, as the impacts of climate change are manifesting throughout the different grapevine producing areas, it is clear that potential solutions that can protect plants against extreme climatic and environmental conditions are equally important.
Through the study of the natural responses that grapevines have when they are under stress (from pathogens or abiotic stress such as drought), intrinsic mechanisms that the plant uses for stress protection have been identified in previous local research. This includes compounds naturally produced by grapevines in response to stress.
This project intends to confirm the ability of these natural compounds that form part of the innate defence system of plants, to protect grapevines against stresses when directly applied to grapevine plant organs. After application, stress tests (mildew infections, mealybug feeding and limiting water) will be performed under controlled conditions. If this proof-of-principle project shows that these compounds can effectively be applied to plant surfaces and cause protection, they could lead to the development of non-chemical control products or strategies against the most important diseases or environmental stresses currently facing producers in South Africa.