Grape (Vitis spp.)-Grapevine Red Blotch Disease

By R. Martin and J. Pscheidt

See also

Cause This disease is caused by Grapevine red blotch-associated virus (GRBaV), which was first reported in 2012 from New York and subsequently in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and elsewhere in the United States The discovery occurred when grapevines with red leaf symptoms that tested negative for Grapevine leafroll associated viruses (1-10) (GLRaV) were analyzed for possible new viruses. GRBaV is a graft transmissible DNA virus tentatively assigned to the family Geminiviridae. It has been shown to be transmitted in the greenhouse by the three cornered alfalfa hopper (Spissistilus festinus) and other potential vectors are being studied. The ODA has added GRBaV to the quarantine pest list for grape at the wine grape industry's request.

Surveys in Idaho, Oregon and Washington vineyards have indicated the presence of this virus in many winegrape cultivars. Positive samples were collected from symptomatic grapevines of Merlot, Cabernet franc, Pinot noir, Cabernet sauvignon, and Malbec. In addition, the samples of the white-fruited cultivars; Viognier, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Semillon and Pinot gris, which do not develop any red leaf symptoms were also identified in Oregon vineyards. Grapes tend to have multiple viruses at the same time so other symptoms may be present in positive vines. A survey in eastern Washington from 2014-2015 found 8% of the samples were positive for both red blotch and leafroll.

Research has indicated 22% and 37% lower yields in affected Merlot and Cabernet franc grapevines, respectively, compared with corresponding non-symptomatic grapevines. Berries from affected grapevines of both cultivars had reduced Brix (as much as 5 points in some scion/rootstock combinations) and skin anthocyanins, but higher titratable acidity compared to berries from non-symptomatic vines. In contrast, no significant difference was observed in pH of juice extracted from berries of symptomatic and non-symptomatic grapevines of both cultivars.

The three-cornered alfalfa hopper is a green, clear-winged, wedge-shaped (thus the name "three-cornered") insect that is about a 0.25 inch long (about the size of a tiny pea). The green color is similar to the grape leaf so they are difficult to detect. It feeds on many other plants, including alfalfa, beans, cowpeas, melon, oats, sweet clover, tomato, and wheat. It does not feed much on grapevine but when it does, it can girdle the petiole causing the leaf to turn red. It is not known if management of this vector in the field will effectively manage the disease. There may also be other arthropod vectors.

Symptoms In red winegrape cultivars, symptoms initially appear as small, irregular red-colored areas between major veins on mature leaves at the basal portion of the canopy of affected vines, and symptoms develop on leaves further up the canes as the season progresses. The discolored areas on the leaves expand and coalesce with time to become reddish or reddish-purple blotches that are strikingly apparent towards the end of the season. In some cultivars the veins become red in contrast to the green veins usually observed with grapevine leafroll disease. Additionally, the leaf blades do not curl downward as is often seen in plants infected with the Grapevine leafroll associated viruses. However, the symptoms of this disease can be confused with grapevine leafroll disease. Multiple infections of different virus are likely and contribute to this confusion. At this time there seems to be considerable variation in degree of reddening depending on cultivar and rootstock. Also, nutrient deficiencies and other stresses can be mistaken for grapevine red blotch disease.

In white winegrape cultivars positive for the virus do not exhibit the symptom of reddening of leaves, though Chardonnay develops interveinal chlorosis that can progress to necrosis before leaf drop. In the case of Pinot gris the Brix levels were not reduced, though yields were reduced dramatically. In Chardonnay (and Riesling) Brix levels were affected significantly similar to that observed in Cabernet Franc.

Sampling The virus appears to be systemic as it can be found in all parts of the grapevine. Inner bark tissue is useful for sampling vines during the dormant season. During the growing season, sampling petioles on the oldest leaves later in the season (after July 1 through to leaf drop) is recommended since Grapevine leafroll viruses are best detected at this time of the year and both diseases can be diagnosed at the same time.

Cultural control Only general control tactics for plant viruses are advised at this time since so little is known about this disease.

  • Plant healthy stock. Clones of most rootstocks and cultivars that have been tested and found to be free of all known viruses are available.
  • Ask nurseries for virus testing results, if using grafted plants ask for results from the grafted plants, or from the rootstocks and scions used to make those plants.
  • Consider having an audit test on the plants once they arrive at your location.
  • Try not to plant a new block adjacent to an infected block or vineyard.
  • Have both scion and rootstock tested when top-working to a new cultivar.
  • Tag or flag positive vines for future management tactics such as vine removal.
  • Treat infected vines with an approved insecticide prior to vine removal to limit potential spread. It is not known if this application or removing adjacent non-symptomatic vines will help manage this disease.

References Bahder, B.W., Zalom, F.G., Jayanth, M. and Sudarshana, M.R. 2016. Phylogeny of geminiviruses coat protein sequences and digital PCR aid in identifying Spissistilus festinus as a vector of Grapevine red blotch-associated virus. Phytopathology 106:1223-1230.

Perry, K.L., McLane, H., Hyder, M.Z., Dangl, G.S., Thompson, J.R. and Fuchs, M.F. 2016. Grapevine red blotch-associated virus is present in free-living Vitis spp. proximal to cultivated grapevines. Phytopathology 106:663-670.

Sudarshana, M., Perry, K.L., and Fuchs, M. 2015. Grapevine red blotch-associated virus, an emerging threat to the grapevine industry. Phytopathology 105:1026-1032.