PlantStressLab - INTEFLAVI

An integrated approach to the control of flavescence dorée in grapevine

Flavescence dorée (FD) is a grapevine phytoplasma disease first observed in Europe sixty years ago. It causes serious damage to European viticulture, and requires insecticide treatments to control the vector, and the removal of infected plants. The spread of the disease in Piedmont began in Monferrato, Roero and Tortonese, but in recent years the Langhe are increasingly affected.

The containment strategies of FD strategies are still unsatisfactory, partly because of insufficient knowledge of basic biological aspects, such as the genetic characteristics of phytoplasma, spatial and temporal pathways of its spread, plant responses to infection. Also the causes of spontaneous recovery, often observed in the field, are not known.

The INTEFLAVI project aims to address these aspects through an integrated approach (plant, vector, phytoplasma). It compares healthy, infected, and recovered plants in the field and under controlled conditions, and measure metabolomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic changes induced in plants by infection. Stress treatments are imposed upon vines in controlled conditions, to assess their effect on the recovery process. Sequencing of the phytoplasma genome is pursued, and based on these data new molecular markers are being developed, which are used to map the spatial and temporal pathways of spread of the phytoplasma in the vector and in plants. INTEFLAVI further assesses the phytoplasma ability to infect plants already recovered, and isolates and selects insect symbionts able to limit phytoplasma spread in the vector.

The project makes use of innovative techniques for FD research, such as transcriptome and methylome sequencing, and LC-MS analysis of the secondary metabolome. The project will produce both scientific findings on the complex plant-phytoplasma-insect interaction, and its results will open the way for verification and prototyping in the field.

Principal investigator: Andrea Schubert


  • University of Turin
  • IPSP-CNR, Turin

Project start 1 May 2014, duration 36 months

Financial support:

  • Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo Foundation
  • Cassa di Risparmio di Asti Foundation
  • Cassa di Risparmio di Torino Foundation

INTEFLAVI 2017 Meeting, Alba 5 may 2017, program

INTEFLAVI 2017 Meeting, Alba 5 may 2017, recording (credits Maurizio Gily, Millevigne)