Esca of grapevine is a fungal disease with a complex aetiology that is common in almost all regions of the world where grapes are cultivated. Despite much research, no effective control of the disease has been found. We investigated possible activity of fosetyl-aluminium (fosetyl-Al), an active ingredient in many fungicides against downy mildew, to inhibit development of esca in grapevine and the main pathogens linked to the disease, Phaeomoniella chlamydospora (Pch) and Phaeoacremonium aleophilum (Pal). In greenhouse experiments conducted on vines artificially inoculated with Pch or Pal, we found a reduction in necrosis in the woody tissue. In field experiments conducted over several years statistically significant reductions in the annual and cumulative incidence of the disease symptoms, and in cumulative vine mortality, were seen. The effect of fosetyl-Al treatments on leaf gas exchange, levels of resveratrol and å-viniferin in the wood, and enzymatic activities were also studied. Hypotheses regarding the mechanism of action of fosetyl-Al against esca are outlined, and the possible use of products containing the chemical, applied on foliage to control downy mildew, is discussed as a strategy for control of esca.
Phaeomoniella chlamydospora; leaf gas exchange; foliar symptoms; grapevine stilbenes; leaf enzymatic activity