To save wine from disease, scientists are breeding native plants
Pierce's Disease is a grapevine strangler. Once bacteria that cause it get into a plant — via insects — it clogs the plant's vascular system and deprives it of water. There's no treatment. Andy Walker, a plant geneticist at UC Davis, is developing new grape varietals that resist the disease. But once the wine is ready to grow, there's another challenge: getting vintners and consumers to try a new wine.
Why it matters:
- Modern movement of people seems to have increased the spread of agricultural diseases.
- It's also possible climate change may increase the range over which a pest or disease can flourish.
- As demand for organic products increases, Walker thinks vintners will need to grow more disease-resistant types of grapes.