Increasing international market demand for wine and grapes has resulted in expanded plantings in many parts of the world. One consequence in some countries has been a shortfall in desirable planting stocks. This is especially true where the industry is based on imported cultivars such as in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, India, China, and Australia with strict quarantine regulations governing the importation of grapevines.
The Australian wine and grape industry has developed and greatly benefited from selection of imported clonal material suited to particular Australian wine grape-growing areas (Dry, 2004). Having new clones available as quickly as possible and being able to multiply these new varieties up for further propagation to supply growers is critical to keeping Australia at the cutting edge of varietal development. However, Australia has strict quarantine rules, which require imported cuttings to be held under quarantine for ≈2 years until they pass virus indexing (Anonymous, 2013). Grapevine virus indexing is a process of visual disease screening when the imported dormant cuttings are rooted and grown in closed quarantine facilities at government post-entry quarantine establishments. On release from quarantine, very limited cane material is available for cuttings. Consequently, it takes several years to obtain sufficient material to build up numbers sufficient to establish new planting blocks using traditional propagation procedures.
Traditional propagation methods, involving the establishment of mother vines from which dormant cuttings are taken for rooting or bench grafting, are relatively slow and not suited to rapid multiplication for commercial cultivation for newly released cultivars (Singh et al., 2004). Mother vines are generally planted from dormant rootlings or potted plants. Commercial-scale numbers of cuttings are not produced from mother vines for at least 3 years depending on the variety (Walker and Golino, 1999).
Mist propagation of herbaceous cuttings has been practiced for rapid propagation of grapevines (California Association of Winegrape Growers, 1998). This method involves collecting multiple green cuttings and rooting them under mist. Warmth, humidity, and light are critical for success with this technique. The cuttings work best with at least two nodes and two lateral buds. The cuttings’ maturity is critical for rooting. Very young or greatly lignified cuttings often fail to root (Walker and Golino, 1999). Semimature partially lignified cuttings are required for this method. This method provides a possibility to use immature cuttings for propagation; however, the multiplication rate could be improved if single-node immature cuttings could be used and if both the semimature partially lignified and softer cuttings could be used.
In vitro micropropagation is an economically feasible method for rapid multiplication of desirable plant genotypes (Gray and Fisher, 1985; Murashige, 1974; Read, 2007) and has been suggested as a means of propagating scarce or hard-to-propagate planting stock of grape clones and varieties (Gray and Fisher, 1985; Lee and Wetzstein, 1990; Lewandowski, 1991; Singh et al., 2004; Walker and Golino, 1999). From the 1970s to early 1990s, success was reported in vitro multiplication in grapes using different explants such as shoot apices, axillary bud, meristem, etc. (Barlass and Skene, 1978; Gray and Benton, 1991; Harris and Stevenson, 1982; Novak and Jůvova, 1983), but the commercial aspect was not worked out in most cases with problems of vitrification of many small shoots and callus formation at the base of the cultures (Singh et al., 2004). Later, grape plantlet multiplication was achieved through axillary shoot proliferation using protocols developed in muscadine grapes (Thies and Graves, 1992; Torregrossa and Bouguet, 1995) and in V. vinifera grapes (Mhatre et al., 2000), but this technique was not reproducible when commercially tested (Singh et al., 2004). In the 2000s, a technique of rapid in vitro multiplication of V. vinifera L. cultivars was developed, which enabled fast multiplication of thousands of plantlets per annum (Singh et al., 2004). In our micropropagation of the imported grape variety ‘Pinot Gris’, to improve rooting in microcuttings harvested from in vitro culture, we modified the micropropagation protocol by changing the conventional agar rooting medium to an aerobic rooting medium, an autoclaved propagation mix composed of sphagnum, peat, coarse sand, and perlite (Newell et al., 2003, 2005). Using this technique, more than 2000 rooted vines of ‘Pinot Gris’ were produced within 2 years from limited material from mother vines (Shan and Seaton, 2007). Although the micropropagation technique is straightforward (Monette, 1988), except for an established infrastructure, it needs practiced skills requiring substantial amounts of time and labor (Walker and Golino, 1999). In addition, during our micropropagation of ‘Pinot Gris’ and other varieties such as ‘Merlot 181’, it was observed that in vitro explants would easily turn yellow and die after a couple of subcultures. This problem has also been reported on micropropagation of V. vinifera L. cv. Napoleón (Ibáñez et al., 2003). Other considerations of this method are control of plant-associated bacterial contamination and the labor required for frequent (often at 2-week intervals) subculturing.
Rapid propagation can significantly speed up supply of a large amount of planting stock and offer large economic advantages (Walker and Golino, 1999). Therefore, development of rapid propagation techniques may offer a solution to improvement in grapevine propagation where scarce stock plant material is available such as plants received through quarantine. The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate a novel technique termed SSTC for fast propagation of planting stocks of imported grapevines using immature single-node cuttings from limited source material. Central to this technique was the elimination of the need for explants’ initiation and in vitro maintenance as required by micropropagation tissue culture protocols and the need for multinodal cuttings by use of single fresh nodes as compared with ex vivo cuttings propagation techniques.
Anonymous2013AQIS web site for import of Vitis spp. as listed (Dormant cuttings). 15 Nov. 2013. <http://www.aqis.gov.au/icon32/asp/ex_casecontent.asp?intNodeId=8996846&intCommodityId=28264&Types=none&WhichQuery=Go+to+full+text&intSearch=1&LogSessionID=0>
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