16. April 2021

Protection of vines from introduced diseases Protection of vines from introduced diseases

Project for early detection of dangerous bacteria receives around three million euros from BMEL / Participation of the University of Bonn

Increasingly globalized trade, rising international tourism and climate change are increasing the likelihood that previously unknown harmful organisms will be introduced and carried into Germany and that heat-loving harmful organisms will be able to spread more easily. These include the disease Flavescence dorée, which is caused by bacteria (phytoplasmas) and affects grapevines, among others. A project involving researchers from the PhenoRob Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn has now received funding of around two million euros from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The aim of the "PhytoMo" project is the early detection of dangerous phytoplasmoses. The Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner presented the researchers with the funding notification this week via video conference.

Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Agriculture - Julia Klöckner presented PhytoMo coordinator Dr. Anna Kicherer and Prof. Dr. Reinhard Töpfer (Julius Kühn-Institut) with the BMEL funding notification (from right) © BMEL/ Photothek/ Schmitz
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The quarantine disease Flavescence dorée is caused by a cell wall-less bacterium, a so-called phytoplasma, and is transmitted by insects, the American grapevine cicadas. These find increasingly favorable conditions in domestic wine regions, which is why the disease can spread throughout a vineyard in a very short time. Infestation by the disease ultimately causes high yield losses, reduces wine quality and impairs the vitality of infected vines.

Since vines are defenseless against phytoplasmas, early detection can help reduce the problem. It is important to detect and remove infected vines in time. Therefore, building on results from a previous project, the researchers want to develop a multispectral image processing system for the specific detection of phytoplasmoses and then develop suitable sensor systems for the detection of infected vines. The aforementioned systems are to be used both on the ground and drone-supported from the air.

Researchers at the University of Bonn develop sensor system

The PhytoMo project is a so-called partner project of the Cluster of Excellence “PhenoRob - Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production” and fits thematically into the "Core Project 1" of the cluster. In the project, Dr. Lasse Klingbeil, Prof. Dr. Heiner Kuhlmann (cluster spokesperson) and Laura Zabawa are developing a sensor system for georeferenced acquisition of geometric and spectral sensor data. The data will be merged into features that can be used to detect phytoplasmas and generate infestation maps.

In addition to the University of Bonn these institutions are also involved in the project: the Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof (Siebeldingen), the Institute for Plant Protection in Fruit and Viticulture (Dossenheim), the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (Karlsruhe), RLP AgroScience GmbH (Neustadt an der Weinstraße), LOGXON GmbH & Co. KG (Alsbach-Hähnlein) and the State Teaching and Research Institute for Viticulture and Fruit Growing (Weinsberg).

"PhytoMo" is one of 18 projects funded by the BMEL to "prevent the introduction and spread of regulated and new harmful organisms on plants" with a total of around 13.5 million euros.

The PhenoRob Cluster of Excellence - Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production

PhenoRob is one of six Clusters of Excellence at the University of Bonn and is carried out in cooperation with the Forschungszentrum Jülich. It is the only Cluster of Excellence in Germany in the field of agricultural sciences. The project started on January 1, 2019 and will run until the end of 2025, with the possibility to receive funding for another seven years. The Clusters of Excellence are part of the excellence strategy of the federal and state governments and are funded by the German Research Foundation. PhenoRob is led by two spokespersons, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heiner Kuhlmann and Prof. Dr. Cyrill Stachniss. More information can be found on the official website: www.phenorob.de

Vine with disease symptom of flavescence dorée (FD)
Vine with disease symptom of flavescence dorée (FD) © M. Maixner/ JKI
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