Several species in Botryosphaeriaceae have been associated with grapevine trunk diseases. To evaluate the effect of water stress on infection of grapevines by Botryosphaeriaceae spp., 1-year-old Shiraz/101-14 Mgt nursery grapevine plants were planted in plastic potting bags and placed outdoors under shade netting. Five weeks after planting, vines were pruned and the pruning wounds inoculated with spore suspensions of Neofusicoccum australe, Neofusicoccum parvum, Lasiodiplodia theobromae or Diplodia seriata. Control treatments consisted of applications of sterile water or a Trichoderma harzianum spore suspension. Stem inoculations were done by inserting a colonised or uncolonised agar plug into a wound made in each stem. Four different irrigation regimes were introduced 12 weeks after planting to simulate varying degrees of water stress. Measurements of stomatal conductance, photosynthetic rate and leaf spectrometry were made to monitor physiological stress. Eight months after inoculation, vines were uprooted and the root, shoot and plant mass of each vine determined. Lesions observed in the inoculated pruning wounds and stems were also measured. Vines subjected to the lowest irrigation regime were significantly smaller than optimally irrigated vines. Water stressed vines also had significantly lower photosynthetic rates and levels of stomatal conductance compared with vines receiving optimal irrigation, indicating that these plants experienced significantly higher levels of physiological stress. The mean lesion length was significantly longer in the pruning wounds and stems of plants subjected to the lowest irrigation regime, with lesion length declining linearly with increasing irrigation volume. These results clearly indicate that when a grapevine is exposed to water stress, colonisation and disease expression by Botryosphaeriaceae spp. are much more severe.
physiology; pathogen infection; photosynthetic rates; stomatal conductance; leaf spectrometry; endophytes