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California PD/GWSS Board Recommends 2021-22 Research Funding

by Ted Rieger
April 21, 2021


The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease (PD)/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Board approved more than $2.1 million in new funding for 12 research projects ranging from one to three years related to Pierce’s Disease, grapevine viruses and vectors at an April 19 meeting held via web conference from Sacramento.

The Board received 18 research proposals for fiscal year (FY) 2021-22 from its annual request for proposal (RFP) and approved recommendations of the research screening committee, chaired by Steve McIntyre of Monterey Pacific Vineyards. The Board forwards its recommendations to the CDFA Secretary for final approval that historically have always been approved.

Highlights of Funded Projects and Researchers

Monica Cooper, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)—A three-year project to improve decision-making for grapevine leafroll and red blotch diseases using rapid identification tools and a regional approach to monitoring and management. This project will investigate the potential for using artificial intelligence (AI) through visual technology to create a field-based app from a database of images of virus-stressed vines, working with Tom Shapland of Tule Technologies who has created a similar AI tool to evaluate water-stressed vines.

Anita Oberholster, UCCE, UC Davis—A three-year project to investigate the effects of grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) on grape cell wall composition and enzymatic processes as they relate to phenolic extractability during winemaking, and ultimately, the effect on wine quality. This would contribute to the understanding of plant-virus interactions and potentially provide knowledge to mitigate the effects of GRBV on wine quality.

Rodrigo Almeida, UC Berkeley—Funded for two PD-related projects. A two-year project will involve modeling of the PD bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (XF) for transmission and grapevine susceptibility using fluid dynamic simulations. A one-year project will study progression of PD symptoms and Xf colonization of grapevines under field conditions.

Marc Fuchs, Cornell University—Funded for three one-year virus and vector projects: Resistance to grapevine leafroll virus 3 and its major mealybug vectors; Transmission biology of GRBV; and Grapevine fanleaf virus-host interactions for disease symptom development.

Lindsey Burbank, US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service—Genomics-based technology for identification, tracking, insecticide resistance and pest management of vine mealybug in vineyards. This project was funded last year, and is being funded for another year and will also include study of the grape mealybug.

Laurent Deluc, Oregon State University—Developing an efficient DNA-free, non-transgenic genome editing methodology in grapevine. This project will use CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology to genetically integrate powdery mildew resistance into a grapevine to demonstrate this approach as a proof of concept and a platform technology for integrating other types of genetic resistance into grapevines. CRISPR technology is not considered transgenic, and organisms transformed with this technology are not classified as a genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Board is also funding seven continuing, multi-year projects previously approved that total $640,000 for FY 2021-22. These include field trials to test PD-resistant plant materials and technologies, field studies on the topical delivery of promising grape-derived peptides for treatment of PD, development of gene editing technology for grapevines using plant protoplasts, and investigating transgenic rootstock-mediated protection of grapevine scion against PD by dual stacked DNA constructs.

The Board recently advertised a request for proposal (RFP) for a Board Research Coordinator contract position to oversee and guide the research program and projects. An RFP for this position was advertised in 2020 but was not successful in obtaining a candidate to fill the position. McIntyre is optimistic that qualified candidates will apply this time. The Board has employed a research coordinator in the past but has not had one for several years. 

More information about the PD/GWSS Board’s research and outreach activities is available at:



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