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Keywords:

  • biocontrol;
  • cultivar;
  • defence-related genes;
  • genotype;
  • induced systemic resistance;
  • Vitis vinifera

Downy mildew, caused by Plasmopara viticola, is one of the most destructive diseases of grapevine and is controlled with intense application of chemical fungicides. Treatment with Trichoderma harzianum T39 (T39) or benzothiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid S-methyl ester (BTH) has been previously shown to activate grapevine resistance to downy mildew and reduce disease symptoms in the Pinot noir cultivar. However, enhancement of plant resistance can be affected by several factors, including plant genotype. In order to further extend the use of resistance inducers against downy mildew, the physiological and molecular properties of T39- and BTH-activated resistance in different cultivars of table and wine grapes were characterized under greenhouse conditions. T39 treatment reduced downy mildew symptoms, but the degree of efficacy differed significantly among grapevine cultivars. However, efficacy of BTH-activated resistance was consistently high in the different cultivars. Expression profiles of defence-related genes differed among cultivars in response to resistance inducers and to pathogen inoculation. T39 treatment enhanced the expression of defence-related genes in the responsive cultivars, before and after P. viticola inoculation. A positive correlation between the efficacy of T39 and the expression level of defence-related genes was found in Primitivo and Pinot noir plants, while different genes or more complex processes were probably activated in Sugraone and Negroamaro. The data reported here suggest that the use of a responsive cultivar is particularly important to maximize the efficacy of resistance inducers and new natural inducers should be explored for the less responsive cultivars.