A NEW research project is bringing hope to winemakers battling noble rot, grey mould and light brown apple moth.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) researcher Syed Rizvi is in the early stages of a study that will give winegrowers a natural weapon to defend their vines against the pests, while reducing the amount of herbicide and fungicide used on the grapes.
Mr Rizvi said the pathogenic fungus Botrytis cinerea, which produces noble rot and grey mould, and the light brown apple moth, cost the wine industry millions of dollars to combat.
“Australia is a country that produces an enormous amount of grapes and as one of the world’s largest wine-producing countries these are problems that cost a lot of money,” he said.
Mr Rizvi said the aim of the study was to look for the natural defence compounds produced by the vine to combat the moth and the mould, which could be used as an alternative to fungicides and pesticides.
He said the existence of a link between the moth and the mould was commonly accepted by winegrowers, with outbreaks of the moth often associated with an increased incidence of grey mould, but the details of that association are not widely understood.
“There has only been a very limited amount of research done to prove there is a link there, and to determine the exact nature of that association,” he said.
“The moth is a serious pest for winemakers, not only because of the physical damage the caterpillars do to the crop but also because of the association with grey mould.”
Mr Rizvi, who has a background in microbiology and plant physiology, hopes to complete his research by December 2014.