Viticulture, one of the most economically important activities of Piedmont, may be at serious risk because of the spread of viral and virus-like agents able to significantly reduce the quantity and quality of wine production. The presence of viruses, even if asymptomatic, is also linked to the incompatibility between graft and rootstock, resulting in the damage of the nursery activities. Currently more than 60 viral or virus-like agents able to infect the grapevine have been identified, but there are several “virus-like” diseases not yet associated with a known viral agent. In addition, global trades and climate changes are two important risk factors for the spread of new pathogens (“alien pests”) not yet present in Italy. In this regard, early detection, control and prevention of viral pathogens are essential.
The Vivir project aims to perform a large-scale survey of the viral and virus-like entities in the North-West of Italy, by a metagenomic approach based on the sequencing of the grapevine extracted small RNAs, through next generation sequencing technologies .
The project takes advantage of the vineyard-collection Grinzane-Cavour, managed by the IPSP (Grugliasco Unit) in collaboration with the “Vignaioli Piemontesi” Assotiation. The collection is constantly updated with grapevine varieties of the North-West of Italy, including rare or minor varieties. Since it is representative of the grapevine population in this area, it allows to investigate the grapevine virome in Piedmont and in the neighboring regions without the need to carry out long and difficult field surveys.