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Grapevines are increasingly beset by trunk diseases, caused by a number of common fungal pathogens of woody tissues, such as Fomitiporia, Eutypa, Botryosphaeria and Cylindrocarpon species. The research groups who investigate these diseases have evolved in response to the concerns of wine producing industries about decline and dieback problems. For the last five years these groups have met biennially to report and discuss their progress. The fifth IWGTD workshop was held in California and attended by 90 delegates from wine-producing countries in North and South America, South Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The talks and posters were arranged around the themes of pathogen identification, host-pathogen interactions, epidemiology and disease management. The programme allowed for group discussions after each theme, which inevitably flowed into the meal breaks. The informal nature of the workshop provided the egalitarian environment that supported wideranging discussion and the development of collaborations and friendships.
Petri disease is one topic which has progressed from initial disease discovery in the late 1990s to the practical elements of disease epidemiology and control strategies. The novel pathogen species were initially identified as Phaeoacremonium spp. and Phaeomoniella chlamydospora, and recently the teleomorphs were identified. At this meeting, two new teliomorphs, Togninia davisiana and T. californica were reported from naturally-occurring necrotic woody tissues. Furthermore, a previously reported teleomorph, T. mimima, was reported to have a bi-allelic heterothallic mating system, which is a first for this genus. Research into control of this disease has also progressed with reports on the efficacy of fungicide soaks and hot water treatment for eradication of infection from grapevine cuttings, and a range of fungicide wound paints for preventing infection of mature vines in the field.
Research into Cylindrocarpon black foot disease and Botryosphaeria canker and dieback were also of great interest to me as I have several students just beginning work on them. Jose Urbez-Torres gave a fascinating paper on Botryosphaeria species in Californian vineyards that summarised much of his PhD work. Personal contact with him has continued and this alone made attendance at the conference worthwhile. For identification of the many Cylindrocarpon species common in grapevines, a range of techniques were also reported, which will be very useful in our research to investigate the distribution of Cylindrocarpon species within different regions and growing conditions, and their pathogenicity to different grapevine rootstock varieties.
The IWGTD workshop provided an excellent environment for broadening the perspectives of the delegates. The relatively small size of these workshops has meant that they are informal and friendly; they provide an excellent environment for development of support networks and collaboration.
Marlene Jaspers, Lincoln University, New Zealand