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CGCN partners for certified virus-free grapevines


November 9, 2020
By Canadian Grapevine Certification Network

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A domestic supply of certified virus-free grapevines may be available to the Canadian grape and wine industry sooner than originally predicted.

On Oct. 27, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) announced a $6.2-million funding commitment through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) to support the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN-RCCV) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in supplying the industry with certified virus-free grapevine planting material.

This initiative, entitled CLEan plAnt extractioN SEquencing Diagnostics (CLEANSED), comes after three years of collaborative work between Brock, CFIA, CGCN-RCCV, University of Victoria, Université de Sherbrooke, Genome Canada, Genome BC, Genome Quebec, Ontario Genomics, Agriculture and Agri Food Canada (AAFC), Compute Canada, Conseil des vins du Quebec and Illumina.

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CLEANSED will utilize High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS) (also known as Next Generation Sequencing or NGS) as a diagnostic tool to detect multiple viruses in grapevines. HTS makes it possible to reliably find any known grapevine viruses in one single test. This one test will replace more than 30 tests currently used to diagnose grapevine diseases, speeding up the release of certified virus-free grapevine material from three years to one year or less.

“As growers across the country continue to deal with viruses that affect crop quality and vine health, the timing could not be more perfect than now for this project,” says CGCN-RCCV vice-chair Bill Schenck. “The industry needs to have a Canadian source of clean vines that have been tested for viruses.”

“The industry needs to have a Canadian source of clean vines that have been tested for viruses,” says Bill Schenck, CGCN vice-chair.

CGCN-RCCV and CFIA, as the end users of this research, will use this genomic technology to test and monitor domestically propagated vines to ensure that Canadian grapevines start clean and stay clean. The CLEANSED initiative also ensures that clean vines will be available to Canadian grape growers in a more affordable way.

“High Throughput Sequencing will make it economically feasible to test all plants used for propagation for all viruses of concern and will greatly contribute to the availability of CGCN-RCCV certified virus-free grapevines to growers across Canada,” explains CGCN-RCCV chair Hans Buchler. “We expect that this will contribute to the reduction, and eventual elimination, of most virus infections in Canadian vineyards.”

A single grapevine virus can cause a grape grower to lose approximately $32,000 to $53,000 per hectare for vineyards with a 25-year life-span and no control measures.

The vines tested and produced in the CLEANSED initiative will be available for commercial sale through CGCN-RCCV’s Certification Program nursery participants. This program uses a systems approach in order to produce virus-tested grapevines. Various independent components – such as virus-testing, field inspection, isolation distances, and vector control – all work together to minimize the presence and the spread of viruses. CGCN-RCCV’s Certification Program was launched on Sept. 16, 2019, and is currently open to applications from nurseries at any level. Please direct any applications or questions to project manager Darien Temprile via email at darien@cgcn-rccv.ca.

Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) has been reported in almost all grape-growing regions in the United States and Canada. The vector(s) of GRBV have not been confirmed, but research is ongoing in the U.S., as well as in Canada as part of the CGCN-RCCV Grape and Wine Science Cluster funded research project. Studies in the U.S. indicate that a single virus, such as the GRBV, can cause losses of $32,000 to $53,000 per hectare for vineyards with a 25-year life-span and no control measures (Atallah et al., 2012). Due to this, providing the $9-billion Canadian grape and wine industry with certified virus-free grapevines and pest control management programs has been a top priority to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the Canadian grape and wine sector.

As CGCN-RCCV continues to work toward their objective of creating a clean plant network for domestically certified virus-tested and pathogen free grapevines in Canada, information can be found at cgcn-rccv.ca.