Microbial life in grapevines: elucidating the leaf microbiome

by | Sep 30, 2018 | South Africa Wine Scan

The goal of this project was to analyse the diversity and presence of members of the bacterial microbiome found on grapevines leaves. Essentially the aim is to identify if any of these organisms have the capability to protect vines against phytopathogenic organisms. Recent studies show that plants house complex bacterial communities which is known as the ‘microbiome’ of a plant. However, very little is known about these bacteria and their roles in nature.


  • Three cultivars, in one location were used in the study: Pinot noir, Chasselas and Solaris (a variety with higher disease resistance than the other two);
  • Leaves were sampled three times throughout the growing season;
  • Epiphytic and endophytic bacterial communities were quantified and their numbers present determined.


  • Epiphytes were present in higher numbers and their communities were much more diverse compared to endophytes;
  • The upper leaf surface areas were more densely colonised than the lower leaf surfaces;
  • Higher numbers of bacteria were present in the resistant Solaris variety but Pinor noir had more diversity among its epiphytic bacterial communities;
  • Bacterial strains showing antagonistic properties against Botrytis were more abundant in the Solaris variety which means that bacterial communities or the plant microbiome could potentially play a role in disease resistance.


This study is just the first step in elucidating the constitution of the plant microbiome and its role in plant health. Next generation sequencing techniques can help to better characterize and understand the complexity of the bacterial communities. In the long run, this research can contribute to the development of new biofungicidal agents.

Reference: https://oeno-one.eu/article/view/2120

Image credit: http://b4fa.org/plant-microbiomes-sustainable-agriculture/

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