|Dr. Catherine Wanjiru Clarke
Research Scientist – Entomology Microbial Sciences, Pests & Diseases, Agriculture Victoria Research Division
Clarke, C., Wigg, F., Norng, S. and Powell, K. (2017) Effectiveness of sodium hypochlorite as a disinfestation treatment against genetically diverse strains of grape phylloxera Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch (Hemiptera: Phylloxeridae)
The 2018 Viticulture paper of the year was awarded to Dr. Catherine Clarke at Agriculture Victoria for the paper Effectiveness of sodium hypochlorite as a disinfestation treatment against genetically diverse strains of grape phylloxera Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch (Hemiptera: Phylloxeridae)
In Australia, phylloxera is the number one biosecurity threat to the wine and grape industry and there is currently no eradication method, hence, management is through the establishment of infested, risk, and exclusion zones. Containment of the pest involves disinfestation of vectors, such as footwear, machinery and vineyard equipment, using heat and chemicals. Disinfestation procedures are stipulated in the National Phylloxera Management Protocol (NPMP), but many of these have not been scientifically corroborated. Researchers at Agriculture Victoria have recently validated existing protocols across genetically diverse phylloxera biotypes, through a Wine Australia and Agriculture Victoria co-funded project. Where current procedures did not achieve 100% mortality, changes to the NPMP have been recommended. The publication nominated for this award validated the footwear disinfestation protocols. Research demonstrated that using household bleach at the recommended dose and immersion duration did not achieve 100% mortality, and surviving insects developed to reproductive adults post treatment. These outcomes have significant input to the ongoing NPMP review. Dr. Catherine Clarke, a Research Scientist at Agriculture Victoria is working together with a dedicated team based at the AgriBio Centre for AgriBioscience and Rutherglen to advance an integrated management program for phylloxera. Present research includes mapping the distribution of phylloxera biotypes to assist with rootstock recommendations, rootstock screening, and developing rapid phylloxera detection methods using novel gene technologies.
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