Vine protection: a new protein alternative to plant protection products (IT)


The vine (Vitis vinifera L.) is a crop of great economic value all over the world. In 2018, over 29 million tons of grapes were produced in Europe, the world's leading producer. Italy, with 8 million tons, is the second largest producer in the world (FAO data for the year 2018).

A production of such magnitude is made possible by the use of plant protection products to combat different diseases, among which the downy mildew of the vine, caused by the oomycete (an organism similar to a fungus) Plasmopara viticola, stands out for its importance and diffusion. In the absence of treatments and in favorable environmental conditions, downy mildew can affect up to 75% of vine crops in a single season, causing significant reductions in production.

Five years ago, the research groups of Prof. Paolo Pesaresi, Biosciences Department of the University of Milan, and of Dr. Silvia Vezzulli, Edmund Mach Foundation of San Michele all'Adige (TN), started to study a new strategy that could allow the development of low environmental impact alternatives to conventional fungicides. This is how the “GrAptaResistance” project was born, funded by the Cariplo Foundation: it made it possible to develop a new strategy in the plant protection sector, which allows the isolation of small proteins, consisting of 8 amino acids, absolutely natural, able to inhibit key enzymes of pathogens and therefore to fight infections. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"In the study - explains Prof. Pesaresi - we identified the NoPv1 protein (NoPlasmopara viticola 1) capable of thwarting the infection of vine leaves by the pathogen. Furthermore, NoPv1 does not damage in any way the growth of other microorganisms existing in the soil, while it is beneficial for the vine, as well as not being harmful to human cells". Although the results obtained are preliminary, this strategy represents an important step forward in the search for low environmental impact alternatives to chemical products. "The technique - adds Silvia Vezzulli - can be used to identify natural proteins capable of fighting infections caused by various plant pathogens".

Source: Edmund Mach Foundation