Contribution of molecular studies to botanical epidemiology and disease modelling: grapevine downy mildew as a case-study

Vittorio Rossi, Tito Caffi, Davide Gobbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


After being accidentally introduced from the USA at the end of the 19th century, downy mildew caused by Plasmopara viticola (Berk. et Curt.) Berlese et De Toni became one of the most damaging diseases affecting Vitis vinifera in Europe. Downy mildew causes both direct and indirect losses and can lead to severe reduction of yield. Our understanding of the life cycle and epidemiology of P. viticola has been recently altered by molecular studies that revealed that the overwintering inoculum (i.e., the oospores) does more than initiate disease, as was previously thought. A mechanistic model was developed for predicting the entire chain of processes leading to primary infections, and this primary infection model was linked to other models of secondary infection cycles. The model for primary infections defines the length of the primary inoculum season and a seasonal oospore dose consisting of several cohorts of oospores that progressively mature. The model was evaluated by means of Bayesian analysis in both Italy and eastern Canada, and showed high sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy both for potted plants and vineyards. Fungicide applications are necessary to control downy mildew because preventive agronomic practices are not very effective, including host resistance. The use of warning systems based on weather-driven models leads to a reduction in the use and cost of chemicals and a reduction in their environmental impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-654
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Dynamic modelling
  • Fungicide scheduling
  • Life cycle
  • Oospores
  • Plasmopara viticola


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