Grapevine Diseases & Disorders

SARDI scientists offer high level capabilities in viticulture pathology and aims to underpin Australian viticulture industries by providing targeted research and development on plant pathology, disease management, biosecurity, soil health and diagnostics.

The group is leading national change in innovative and sustainable management of viticultural diseases. Research on foliar and trunk diseases is providing new understandings of disease management that are being readily adopted by grapegrowers. SARDI has considerable expertise in disease forecasting and in delivering new technology to industry. This is providing the Australian viticulture industry with market advantages from its improved production, decreased chemical inputs and reduced carbon footprint.

Disease/disorder Symptoms/Project
Bacterial diseases Small dark angular spots develop on the leaves, occasionally coalescing and causing the leaves to senesce. The infected leaves usually occurred on the lower part of the vine with occasional yellowing of the leaf blade
Botrytis Bunch Rot A serious disease of grapes particularly in areas where wet weather occurs between veraison and harvest.
Downy mildew A weather driven disease.
Eutypa and other trunk diseases Grapevine trunk diseases
Fungicides Efficient use of the new fungicide group, the strobilurins, for the control of powdery mildew, downy mildew and Botrytis bunch rot of grapes.

Lesion nematodes can damage grapevine roots by feeding on root cells or by predisposing them to rotting by secondary micro-organisms and are closely tied to the cycle of grapevine growth and environmental conditions. Seasonal variation in abundance of Lesion Nematodes in grapevines discusses optimum sampling times to diagnose or predict growth problems caused by Lesions Nematodes.

Phomophsis cane and leaf spot Efficacy of sulphur for powdery mildew and mite control
Powdery mildew Fungal problem of grapes throughout Australia
Sclerotina shoot rot A disease of grapevines that occurs with wet spring weather, and appears to be most devastating on young Cabernet Sauvignon
Vine health A physiological disorder resulting in the death of the primary bud


SARDI is providing national biosecurity research leadership through the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity. This involves developing novel ways to eliminate disease outbreaks, while limiting the negative economic and social impacts on growers, regions and the economy. A key component of this is early disease detection, correct diagnosis of disease and pests, and an improved understanding of pathogen and pest biology. Current approaches for eradicating exotic pathogens are also being evaluated in collaborative projects with international specialists.

Expertise in vine soil health has been developed by the group, particularly with the impacts of partial root zone drying and the use of recycled water on vines.

SARDI provides a diagnostic capability on pests and diseases to the Australian viticulture industry as well as contract research in plant and soil health, facilitating more effective management of disease caused by plant pathogens.


SARDI Entomology provides expertise in insect taxonomy, ecology, biological control and molecular biology, which are applicable to the fields of biosecurity diagnostics and integrated pest management programs accessed by viticultural industries.

Molecular approaches are applied to better understand insect biology and provide a basis for developing novel tools for industry. Through a collaboration with the CSIRO CybernoseTM research cluster, SARDI entomology has worked on cell-free sensory tools for quantitative wine quality analysis.

Environmentally sound approaches to pest management that support product marketability are emphasised through integrated pest management. This usually entails applying knowledge about the dynamic biology and ecology of the target pests species, and their associated parasites, predators and diseases to develop sustainable control options.

The group has specific knowledge in the management of major viticultural pests, including lightbrown apple moth (LBAM), mealybugs, eriophyiid mites and weevils, and is researching the impacts of pesticides on beneficial organisms. SARDI is pioneering research which aims to achieve a closer integration of viticulture with surrounding natural landscapes to provide more effective ecosystem service benefits. Natural enemies can enrich the ecosystem contributing to the control of viticultural pests.

However, the extended host-free period when vineyards are dormant means that to be effective, natural enemies of key pests such as LBAM, must recolonise vineyards each season. We are investigating the potential for flowering native vegetation to provide the shelter, food and alternative hosts needed by natural enemies, along with other benefits which contribute to weed suppression, mitigation of soil erosion and the conservation of endemic biodiversity. An important aspect of this approach is the development of links with NRM groups to deliver government-sponsored revegetation programs. We are also demonstrating significant improvements in the biological control of horticultural pests through the use of soil amendments, findings which may hold direct application to viticulture industries, and warrant further exploration.

More information can be found under Pests and Diseases