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Safj 2023 04 Phylloxera Root Galls Featured
April / May 2023


SA Fruit Journal: April / May 2023

Phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae) is a sap-sucking insect closely related to aphids. By Elleunorah Allsopp (ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij)

Phylloxera feeds exclusively on grapevines (Vitis spp.), just behind the growth tips of the fine roots, where characteristic galls – or nodosities – develop (Fig. 1). The galls weaken the root system and can have a profound impact on grapevine performance. Infested grapevines decline gradually and eventually die. The wine-, table- and dried-grape industries are all affected by this pest.
Phylloxera originates from indigenous wild grapevines in the South-Eastern US.

It was accidentally brought into SA via infested plant material and first identified in the country in 1886. The pest spread rapidly and threatened to destroy the local wine industry. The industry was saved only by the introduction of resistant rootstocks onto which susceptible scion cultivars were grafted. However, resistance or tolerance to phylloxera is not absolute. If rootstock vigour declines due to unfavourable conditions or stress, resistance is reduced and phylloxera can colonise the roots.

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