2061: On farm DNA surveillance for grape growers

Project Number


Project Type & Status


Project Leader


Ray Correll
Alan McKay
Dr Kathy Ophel Keller
Dr Cassandra Collins
Danielle Giblot-Ducray
Greg King
Chris Anderson
Inca Pearce

Impact Delivery Themes

2061: On farm DNA surveillance for grape growers

This project is developing a sensitive, accurate and cost-effective sampling strategy for the detection of Phylloxera using real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR). There will be the development of a robust surveillance protocol which covers phytosanitary requirements, sample chain of custody, transport and storage conditions, the inclusion of additional laboratory and sample quality control protocols, laboratory reporting and communication. These cost effective and accurate methods of surveillance, using quantitative DNA diagnostics, will identify where the pest is or isn’t, assisting industry and regulatory stakeholders in the administration of regulated infested zones and helping mitigate against economic losses.

What is the biosecurity problem this project aims to resolve/improve?

Phylloxera (Daktulsphaira vitifoliae) is a tiny aphid-like insect (pictured) that destroys grapevines by killing their roots. Removing all vines from an infested area is the only effective treatment as there are currently no effective chemical or biological controls. Phylloxera is the only domestically regulated pest affecting vineyards in Australia. Current surveillance techniques for Phylloxera are labour intensive, requiring expert observation and diagnosis and digging up the root system. This is a barrier to industry-wide surveillance and improvements are urgently needed to enhance effectiveness for demonstrating area freedom status.

Project Summary

Key outputs of this project are:

  • Tool - a ‘how to’ method of sampling for grape growers and regulatory officers which is accurate and user-friendly.

  • Capacity - knowledge transfer from researchers to grape growers through regional workshops, field demonstrations and a YouTube video.

  • Capacity - through the training of industry stakeholders in the collection and management of samples for PCR analysis. A resource for the future biosecurity community.

  • Strategy - a systematic surveillance protocol which directly engages the growers as an integral part of the risk management of pests and diseases.


The impact is significant. The nationally endorsed Phylloxera surveillance protocol currently has complex labour and expertise requirements and is invasive, involving digging up grapevine root systems. By developing a cost-effective and non-invasive sampling protocol to accurately detect soil borne pests of grapevines, the protocol will be able to be used directly by grapevine growers, without third party assistance. It can be used to establish areas of low/no pest prevalence for soil borne pests and will help to prevent the spread of Phylloxera in Australia. The anticipated outcome is a new robust national protocol being used by industry and leading to ongoing confidence in determining area freedom status.

The end-users and beneficiaries of this research will include the Australian Viticulture industry (wine, table grape and dried fruit growers) and producers, state regulators, Phylloxera and Grape Industry Board of South Australia and their network of approximately 3,500 vineyard owners.

Partners in this project

  • Australian Government Australian Grape and Wine Authority

  • NSW Department of Primary Industries

  • Phylloxera and Grape Board of South Australia

  • Rho Environmetrics

  • South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)

  • The University of Adelaide

  • Victoria Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Partners in this Project

Related News