COMPARATIVE ANATOMY OF YELLOWS-INFECTED `CHARDONNAY' GRAPEVINES IN NEW YORK STATE, VIRGINIA, AND SOUTH AUSTRALIA

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North St., Geneva, NY 14456

Grapevine yellows is a destructive, worldwide disease of grapevines that is caused by a phytoplasma, a bacterium-like organism that infects and disrupts the vascular system of shoots. The North American form of grapevine yellows (NAGY) has been observed in New York State since the mid-1970s and in Virginia since the mid-1990s. Symptoms duplicate those of vines suffering from an Australian disease complex known as Australian grapevine yellows (AGY). We sought to determine if infected `Chardonnay' vines have common anatomical characteristics across the three regions. At each geographic site in late summer, 2003–04, leaf and internode samples were taken from younger green regions of shoots and from mature basal regions in the fruiting zone. These were processed for histology. The anatomy of each organ type was compared between locations on the shoot, between geographic locations, and between affected and normal shoots. The phloem was the only tissue universally affected in vines with NAGY or AGY symptoms. In stem internodes, both primary phloem and secondary phloem showed many senescent cells, abnormally proliferated giant cells, and hyperplasia. In affected secondary phloem there was disruption of the radial files of cells that normally differentiate from the cambium into mature phloem cell types. Normal bands of secondary phloem fibers (“hard phloem”) in internodes were weak or absent in affected vines. Leaves also had disrupted phloem organization but near-normal xylem organization in vines with symptoms. Leaves of infected vines frequently showed a disruption of sugar transport out of the leaf blades, manifested by a heavy buildup of starch in chloroplasts of mesophyll cells and bundle-sheath cells.

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