New Science to Identify Phylloxera

World-leading soil testing systems developed in South Australia are poised to play a key role in keeping the State’s grapevines free of phylloxera, the destructive pest that feeds on vine roots and eventually kills vines.

If undetected, the pest can spread rapidly and has the potential to destroy vineyards and inflict heavy losses on regions that rely on the grape and wine industry.
The new scientific method of detection relies on the identification of a phylloxera presence DNA soil samples. The method is attracting overseas interest after a recent presentation in Bordeaux, France, and supports the State’s Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment strategic priority.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Gail Gago said the campaign to retain SA’s phylloxera-free status encompassed the quest to comply with World Trade Organisation standards, and the State Government has provided $350,000 in funding to the $1.8 million project.

The emphasis in South Australia is on ensuring phylloxera doesn’t become established, but there is no cost-efficient testing for the presence of phylloxera in soil.
Refining the phylloxera DNA testing technique, developed by SARDI, will involve $1.8 million in funding over the next three years from the State Government, the Phylloxera Board of SA (PGIBSA), Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation.

The consortium of organisations partnering with SARDI includes the PGIBSA, the University of Adelaide, Victoria’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Department of Primary Industries NSW and Adelaide company Rho Environmetrics. It is to be a three-year research project.

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