Ecophysiological impacts of Esca, a devastating grapevine trunk disease, on Vitis vinifera L.


Esca is a Grapevine Trunk Disease (GTD) caused by a broad range of taxonomically unrelated fungal pathogens. These attack grapevine wood tissues inducing necroses even in the conductive vascular tissues, thus affecting the vine physiology and potentially leading to plant death. However, the influence of Esca on leaf and whole-plant water transport disruption remains poorly understood. In this paper, a detailed analysis of xylem-related physiological parameters in grapevines that expressed Esca-foliar symptoms was carried out. The experiments were conducted in a vineyard in the Bordeaux region (France) on cv. Cabernet-Sauvignon (Vitis vinifera L.) grapevines, which were monitored for Esca-foliar symptoms over a two-year period. Heat dissipation sap-flow sensors were installed during the summer on grapevines having expressed or not Esca-foliar symptoms. Leaf water potential, stomatal conductance and leaf transpiration were also measured. Physiological monitoring showed that sap flow density and whole-plant transpiration of Esca-infected grapevines decreased significantly a week before the first foliar symptoms appeared. When atmospheric water demand (Vapour Pressure Deficit, VPD) was the highest, both parameters tended to be about twice as low in symptomatic grapevines as in asymptomatic ones. Sap flow density data at the maximum transpiration-time, was systematically 29-30% lower in Esca-infected grapevines compared to control plants before or after the appearance of Esca-foliar symptoms. This trend was observed whatever the temperatures and VPD values measured. In Esca-diseased plants, larger amounts of necrotic wood, mainly white rot, were found in the trunk and cordon of symptomatic grapevines compared to healthy ones, suggesting necroses have an influence in reducing the whole-plant hydraulic capacity. This study reveals that the use of physiological monitoring methods, together with the visual monitoring of foliar symptoms, could prove useful in providing accurate measurements of Esca disease severity.






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Publication Info

Ouadi, Loris, Emilie Bruez, Sylvie Bastien, Jessica Vallance, Pascal Lecomte, Jean-Christophe Domec and Patrice Rey (2019). Ecophysiological impacts of Esca, a devastating grapevine trunk disease, on Vitis vinifera L. PloS one, 14(9). p. e0222586. 10.1371/journal.pone.0222586 Retrieved from

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Jean Christophe Domec

Visiting Professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment

Bordeaux Sciences Agro in FRANCE (primary appointment)

Discovery of knowledge in Plant water relations, ecosystem ecology and ecohydrology, with special focus on: - Long-distance water transport under future climate; - Drought tolerance and avoidance; - Patterns of changes in structural and functional traits within individual plants. My goal as a researcher is to improve the fundamental science understanding of how plants and terrestrial ecosystems respond to climate changes, and to provide tree breeders with policy-relevant information. I have carried out research on interactions between soil water and plant water use in contrasting ecosystems, in cooperation with scientists at Bordeaux Sciences Agro in FRANCE (primary appointment), Duke University, Oregon State University, and the USDA Forest Service, Southern Global Change Program, recently renamed EFETAC (Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center).

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