Modifying Rootstocks to Fight, Prevent Pierce’s Disease

Scientists Help Grapevines Double-team Pierce’s Disease

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

The glassy-winged sharpshooter is a flying insect that vectors a fatal grapevine malady known as Pierce’s Disease. Scientists are conducting volumes of research to fight this insect and reduce disease infection on vines. Moreover, scientists are studying methods to prevent the spread of Pierce’s Disease on winegrapes in California entirely.

California grapevine rootstock
California grapevine

Ken Freeze is the outreach coordinator for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board (PD/GWSS) as well as an account director at Brown-Miller Communications. On behalf of the PD/GWSS Board, Freeze communicates with winegrape growers who pay the Board an assessment to conduct research. Freeze explained ongoing research and how research funds are being spent.

FIGHTING PIERCE’S DISEASE

Could introducing pectin into grapevines, help prevent that bacteria, Xylella fastidiosa, from entering the vine? Freeze said, in a recent field trial, “scientists found five different genes that when placed in a rootstock, put either a molecule or a protein up into an unmodified scion that in one way basically stops the bacteria from moving around,” he said.

“For instance, one of the genes comes from the pear,” said Freeze. “I think we’re all familiar with pectin. A lot of plants produce pectin naturally; grapevines are not one of them. By modifying a rootstock with this pear gene, when the bug comes and injects the bacteria into the plant, the pectin literally gums it up and it can’t move around.”

An unmodified plant injected with bacteria by the glassy-winged sharpshooter, turns to another strategy. “When the bacteria population reaches a certain point, [the plant] releases a protein that causes the bad bacteria to stop moving around. However, in grapevines, it is too late when that signal comes; the plant is already dead. By modifying the rootstock to automatically generate that same protein when the bacteria enters the plant, the bacteria shuts down,” said Freeze.

winegrapes fight Pierce's Disease
Winegrapes

Freeze said scientists are seeing that these strategies are working quite well. “What scientists are actually doing now is stacking these genes, two by two, in the rootstock. Now each root will produce two different ways to shut down the bacteria. If for some reason in the future the bacteria figures out a way to overcome one of those ways, chances are it won’t figure out how to overcome both of them.”

PREVENTING PIERCE’S DISEASE

Dr. Andy Walker, a UC Davis professor and geneticist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, has been working for years on rootstock that could block Pierce’s Disease from entering the vine. “He’s already released 14 different varieties to the Foundation Plant Services as well as three different rootstock that are resistant to Pierce’s Disease,” said Freeze. “The best varieties will be released to nurseries probably next year. Then from there [nurseries will] basically start growing them and taking orders from winegrowers.”

Freeze noted that other field trials are continuing. “We have field trials for a benign strain of Pierce’s Disease. It is like giving plants a smallpox vaccination, only it is the bacteria. That is on its way to commercialization. In the future, you might actually order your new vines from the nursery pre-infected with the bacteria that would normally cause [Pierce’s Disease]. But in this case, it will not cause it,” said Freeze.


CDFA Pierce’s Disease Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board (PD/GWSS)

CDFA Pierce’s Disease Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board (PD/GWSS) Interactive Forum

CDFA Pierce’s Disease Control Program

UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology

UC Davis Foundation Plant Services

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Bee Health Fugitives

Bee Health: Varroa Mite Is Public Enemy No. 1

By Laurie Greene, Editor

The varroa mite is “Public Enemy No. 1” for bees, according to Becky Langer, the North American Bee Care manager for Bayer CropScience. “It’s the giant tick that’s attaching to [bees],” said Langer, “transmitting viruses and bacteria. This mite has to be constantly managed and we’ve seen very high levels. When our bee experts were out visiting with people last fall, people were reporting very high levels of mites. So we anticipate high [bee] losses coming out of this winter because of the cyclic effect of the mite.” Langer explained. “It really re-emphasizes the necessity of controlling that mite—all the time—and staying on top of it.

Bayer Bee Health's Feed a Bee Program
Bayer Bee Health’s Feed a Bee Program

Commenting on other “Most Wanted Criminals” against bee health, Langer discussed recent research findings that well-fed bees are better able to defend themselves against the notorious nosema, a fungi-related parasite. “They actually found higher counts of nosema in those bees, but the well-fed bees could manage the nosema populationas opposed to not-well-fed bees.”

“That of course ties into Bayer Bee Care Program‘s Feed a Bee Program and its forage and nutrition initiative,” commented Langer. Launched last year to address the lack of food and habitat for bees Feed a Bee worked with more than 250,000 people and 75 partners to plant 65 million flowers and thousands of acres of forage across the country. “We’ve got to be feeding these bees better,” Langer reinforced.

According to their website, this year, Feed a Bee kicks off the spring with the launch of a new song and video for children of all ages. Other ways people can become involved with the program to help these hardworking insects are: request a free packet of wildflower seeds, for a limited time while supplies last; commit to growing pollinator-attractant plants of your own; and locate Feed a Bee plantings in your own communities on the interactive partner map. You can also tweet a emoji and #FeedABee to have Bayer plant on your “bee-half.” 

Langer commented on crop protection products—”the usual suspects”—by stressing the importance for growers to follow labels.  “If that’s the case and they are used properly and in the proper settings, there is no long-term effect on colony health,” she said. “Really, where we see colony health problems correlates well with the varroa mite and with forage and habitat issues.”

Among the Feed a Bee Program collaborators in California are: Wilbur-Ellis, San Francisco, CABee Happy Apiaries, Vacaville, CA; Carmel Valley Ranch & Golf Course; PROJECT APIS M.; and Vitamin Bee.

__________________________________________

Resources:

Fleming, James C.; Daniel R. Schmehl; James D. Ellis,Characterizing the Impact of Commercial Pollen Substitute Diets on the Level of Nosema spp. in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.),” PLOS ONE [an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication], July 30, 2015.

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Lactose Intolerance: 11 Ways to Still Love Dairy

Source: Brunilda Nazario, MD; WebMD

If you’re lactose intolerant, you can still eat foods with lactose — in moderation. The key is to know your limit. Keep a food diary, write down when, what, and how much you ate, and how it made you feel. You should see a pattern emerge and you will learn how much or how little lactose you can have. Then, stick to your limit.

Consider Lactose-Free Milk and Other Dairy

For regular milk drinkers, most supermarkets have lactose-free or low-lactose milk in their dairy case or specialty foods sections. You can also find lactose-free cheese, lactose-free yogurt, and other dairy products. It can be hard to get enough calcium when you are lactose intolerant. Lactose-free milk, however, has the same amount of calcium as regular milk.

Take Control of Your Diet

Take control of your meals by brown bagging it rather than struggling to find something that you can eat on a menu. When cooking at home, you can replace milk in recipes with lactose-free milk. You can also buy a cookbook that features lactose-free recipes and start trying them. Many classic recipes can be adapted to fit a lactose-intolerant diet. Control the ingredients that go in the meal and you may be surprised at how much variety you can eat.

lactose intolerance, milkConsider Lactase Supplements

It’s not a cure, but taking lactase enzyme supplements can help you eat foods containing lactose. Supplements are found in many forms, including caplets and chewable tablets. They may be particularly helpful if you don’t know the exact ingredients in your meal. If supplements do not help your symptoms, be sure to check with your doctor.

Hunting for Hidden Lactose

Lactose is found in most dairy products, except those marked “lactose-free,” such as lactose-free milk or cheese. It also can be in packaged foods such as dried mixes, frozen meals, and baked goods. Read food labels carefully, and watch out for ingredients such as “milk solids,” “dried milk,” and “curd.” If you choose to eat these foods, you may need to take a lactase supplement to help prevent symptoms.

Ask the Experts

Learning a new way of eating isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Ask your doctor to suggest a nutritionist or dietitian to help you manage your diet. She can teach you how to read food labels, share healthy eating tips, learn how much dairy you can eat or drink without symptoms, and come up with reduced-lactose or lactose-free foods to provide a well-balanced diet.

Smaller Portions, Fewer Symptoms

Maybe you can’t enjoy a big glass of milk with cookies, but you can try a smaller serving. Start with a 4-ounce glass instead of a full 8 ounces. Gradually increase the amount of dairy you eat until you begin to notice unpleasant symptoms. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you’ve reached your limit. If you want to avoid lactose completely, try lactose-free dairy milk or non-dairy drinks, such as soy milk.

Enjoy Dairy on the Side

Instead of eating or drinking dairy products by themselves, try having them with food that doesn’t contain lactose. For some people, combining dairy with other food may reduce or even get rid of their usual symptoms. So don’t just drink a glass of milk in the morning. Pour it over cereal or have a piece of toast on the side.

Make Better Cheese Choices

With lactose intolerance, you can still eat cheese, but choose carefully. Hard, aged cheeses like Swiss, parmesan, and cheddars are lower in lactose. Other low-lactose cheese options include cottage cheese or feta cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk. Certain types of cheeses — especially soft or creamy ones like Brie — are higher in lactose. If you want to avoid dairy completely, try lactose-free and dairy-free cheeses.

Learn to Love Yogurt

Look for yogurt with live and active bacterial cultures. When you eat this type of yogurt, the bacterial cultures can help break down the lactose. Plus just 1 cup of plain, low-fat yogurt provides 415 mg of calcium. But forget frozen yogurt. It doesn’t contain enough live cultures, which means it may cause problems for people who are lactose intolerant. To be safe, you can always choose lactose-free yogurt.

Probiotics for Lactose Intolerance

For some people, probiotics can ease symptoms of lactose intolerance. Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that restore the balance of “good” bacteria in your digestive system. They can be found in foods like yogurt or kefir — probiotic-rich milk — as well as dietary supplements. Check with your doctor to see if probiotics might help you.

Low-Lactose Home Cooking

Cooking low-lactose requires a change of thinking. The simpler you cook, the better. Use herbs and seasonings to flavor meat, fish, and vegetables. Stick to fresh ingredients and use fewer prepared foods. Experiment with chicken stock or lactose-free milks to make sauces. Use low-lactose cheeses for baking. Explore cuisines — such as Mediterranean or Asian — that don’t rely very much on dairy products.

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