The Eurasian grapevine (Vitis vinifera), an Old World species now cultivated worldwide for high-quality wine production, is extremely susceptible to the agent of downy mildew, Plasmopara viticola. The cultivation of resistant V. vinifera varieties would be a sustainable way to reduce the damage caused by the pathogen and the impact of disease management, which involves the economic, health and environmental costs of frequent fungicide application. We report the finding of unique downy mildew resistance traits in a winemaking cultivar from the domestication center of V. vinifera, and characterize the expression of a range of genes associated with the resistance mechanism. Based on comparative experimental inoculations, confocal microscopy and transcriptomics analyses, our study shows that V. vinifera cv. Mgaloblishvili, native to Georgia (South Caucasus), exhibits unique resistance traits against P. viticola. Its defense response, leading to a limitation of P. viticola growth and sporulation, is determined by the overexpression of genes related to pathogen recognition, the ethylene signalling pathway, synthesis of antimicrobial compounds and enzymes, and the development of structural barriers. The unique resistant traits found in Mgaloblishvili highlight the presence of a rare defense system in V. vinifera against P. viticola which promises fresh opportunities for grapevine genetic improvement.
Authors: Silvia Laura Toffolatti*, Piero Attilio Bianco, Osvaldo Failla and Gabriella De Lorenzis
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Milan, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano (Italy)