Since the announcement of Grapevine Red Blotch virus (GRBV) in Australia, Vinehealth has been undertaking surveillance in SA, working with virologists, the propagation sector and vineyard owners to learn about this virus, share knowledge with industry and manage SA’s position in conjunction with PIRSA. In this article we provide a status update for South Australian vineyard owners on this active incursion.

Pest status

A final determination on the Emergency Plant Pest status of GRBV and technical feasibility of its eradication is currently pending by the Consultative Committee for Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP). Until this decision is made, GRBV remains classified as an exotic plant pest to Australia, and reportable to all state biosecurity departments.

SA surveillance activities

Following the notification of GRBV detection in Western Australia in July 2022, Vinehealth undertook a targeted surveillance plan for GRBV during August-October 2022. Over 130 samples were collected from vines of interest. This surveillance included duplicate sample collection for ring testing between diagnostic laboratories and repeat testing of vines over time.

Surveillance activities by Vinehealth will recommence in autumn 2023; the time of year identified by virologists to correspond with highest virus titre and therefore greater confidence in diagnostic results.

Vinehealth will continue to work closely with diagnostic laboratories, the South Australian Vine Improvement Association (SAVIA), SA propagation sector and SA vineyard owners to ensure a sound understanding of the current presence of GRBV in vine material in South Australia to inform the national determination on GRBV status. In addition, Vinehealth will continue to work alongside SAVIA and the SA propagation industry to inform ongoing surveillance for GRBV and elimination from propagation material.

It has been encouraging to note the collaborative efforts of the diagnostic laboratories across Australia on GRBV testing and highlights the importance of investment in Australian-based virologists to maintain their knowledge and capacity to support industry during such incursions.

New research

Grapevine virologist Dr Fiona Constable (Agriculture Victoria Research) is overseeing a PhD student, Kamalpreet Kaur (School of Applied Systems Biology at La Trobe University), to undertake a short study on GRBV during this current financial year; relevant to Australian diagnosticians and industry.

This study involves comprehensive surveillance at a site in Victoria with known GRBV positive vines to verify positive varieties/clones, spread, variability in virus detection (and tissue types) over four timepoints (November, February, autumn, winter) and validation of multiple laboratory detection methods. This work is led by Agriculture Victoria and is being done in collaboration with CSIRO, Affinity Labs and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. The work is being funded by Agriculture Victoria and Wine Australia.

What do you need to do?

Refer to the AWRI fact sheet for GRBV for symptoms to look out for in late summer and autumn.

If you suspect the presence of GRBV, call the AWRI Help Desk (08 8313 6600) or Vinehealth Australia (0412 859 882 or 0418 818 543).