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2022 Speakers

Identifying the pathway for latent infection of wine grapes by Botrytis cinerea and management to improve fruit and vine quality

Mary Cole

Mary Cole, Speaker at Plant Biology Congress 2022
The University of Melbourne, Australia
Title : Identifying the pathway for latent infection of wine grapes by Botrytis cinerea and management to improve fruit and vine quality


Grey mould caused by Botrytis cinerea and subsequent loss of crop, makes it the most economically important disease of grapevines in Australia and other wine grape growing countries. Wineries impose a price penalty on grapes above a certain threshold.

B. cinerea is a weather driven pathogen expressing in cool wet, and warm wet conditions. Symptoms can be seen early in the season in buds and early shoots but are usually seen most often after veraison through to harvest. A citrus-based product used as a curative manages Botrytis infection while providing added benefits through increased anthocyanin production in red grape varieties. Wet weather at flowering encourages early infection often resulting in a latent infection that may or may not express at harvest depending on the weather.

Floral organs including the calyptra, stigma and receptacle parts of grapevines were inoculated with aqueous solutions containing B. cinerea conidia. The initial stages of spore attachment, colonisation and infection of host tissue were studied in the days immediately post inoculation using light, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Flowers with the calyptra still attached were not infected. On open flowers spores were found to attach within 48 hours and most accumulated in the gap between the ovary and calyx formed when the calyptra fell off. After 72 hours B. cinerea conidia colonised the dehiscent calyptras providing another source of inoculum from calyptras that remained stuck and were enclosed into the bunch at bunch closure.

Sections of infected berries showed the presence of fungal hyphae in cells below the skin with the berry pulp deteriorating between the cells containing the fungal hyphae and the skin. This is considered the reason for the phenomenon ‘slippery skin’ seen in Botrytis infected mature berries.

Good vineyard management can manage B. cinerea. Minimising leaf and bunch wetness; increasing air flow in the canopy; eliminating touching bunches and reducing canopy density to increase drying within the canopy all minimise disease risk from B. cinerea.

Natural products such as a citrus product made in Australia and Trichoderma products applied as curatives up to harvest, provide a more environmentally friendly method of management at the same time producing a stimulus to the anthocyanins in red grapes.

High quality compost tea applied to the vines to run-off during the season in the vineyards and minimal use of synthetic chemicals has increased microbial activity in the soil. Use of cover crops in the midrow and vine row and increased organic matter in the soil has resulted in longer photosynthetic leaf following harvest, leading to healthier vines and increased soil microbial activity.

Audience Take Away Notes : 

  • Understanding why sprays do not manage flowering Botrytis cinerea.
  •  Botrytis control by vineyard management
  • Understanding the infection cycle for Botrytis management.


Dr Mary Cole gained her PhD from Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 1998. She started her academic career at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales before returning to Monash and University of Melbourne as the foundation Director for the Centre for Wine, Food & Agribusiness. In 1980, she founded Agpath P/L, a private research and consulting laboratory that provides education in soil microscopy and soil health to students and farmers around Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Egypt, Zambia and the UAE using compost and natural management regimes to improve soil health, plant health and human health.

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