Researchers Find Way to Beat Pierce’s Disease: Big News for California and Texas Wine Lovers
A team of researchers has found a way to ensure that your evening glass of wine will continue to be available, despite the potential attack of Xylella fastidiosa (Xf), a bacterium that causes Pierce’s Disease (PD) and poses a significant threat to the California (and not to mention Texas) wine industry’s valuable grapevines.
Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), University of California at Davis (UCD), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have created specially engineered grapevines that produce a hybrid antimicrobial protein that can block Xf infection.
By helping the vine fight the microbe with specific proteins, the scientists envision vineyards requiring less reliance on chemicals as growers seek to fend off the bacterium and the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) insect that carries it. As the insect feeds on various plants, it distributes the microbe and PD widely.
This research is published in the current edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “An engineered innate immune defense protects grapevines from Pierce’s disease,” by Abhaya M. Dandekar, et al. The article’s online tracking number is 2011-16027R in the PNAS Early Edition published the week of Feb. 20, 2012.