Linnaeus R&D
Research

"Without measurement there is no management."

Embracing relevant and constantly emerging scientific knowledge as well as what we can learn from our growers’ experience, the team at Linnaeus conduct a broad range of research into plant and soil health, food, air and water quality.

With origins in grapevine health certification, Linnaeus was established in 1999 by Riversun, New Zealand’s leading grapevine nursery – to continuously improve Riversun’s production processes and obtain the best performing plants while maintaining a commitment to sustainability.

As part of this legacy, Linnaeus also conducts large-scale industry-funded grapevine health research projects, which require close collaboration with leading research teams, both in New Zealand and overseas.

We believe that without measurement there is no management so through our rigorously designed and implemented trials, Linnaeus helps clients incorporate findings into core practice to improve the characteristics and quality of their products.

Contact us to discuss your R&D projects.

OUR PROJECTS:

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GRAPEVINE
TRUNK DISEASE:

Young vine ecology, diagnostics and preventative treatments

The impact of pathogenic trunk fungi on grapevine establishment and longevity is a major concern for the wine industry in New Zealand and worldwide. The diversity of fungi associated with the disease and their widespread and often asymptomatic occurrence in vines has proven a challenge for understanding the epidemiology of the disease and the impact of nursery and vineyard practices.

With support from New Zealand Winegrowers and The New Zealand Viticultural Nursery Association (ViNA), and in collaboration with scientists from Landcare Research, Linnaeus is developing a suite of molecular diagnostic tests based on quantitative real-time PCR to target pathogenic trunk fungi found in New Zealand vines.

A metagenomics study using next generation sequencing technology and traditional culture methods has been carried out to determine the diversity of fungal populations in newly planted and young vines, and to inform the selection of diagnostic test targets. The diagnostic tests are being used as part of a study looking into the impact of hot water treatment on vine establishment, performance and occurrence of pathogenic trunk fungi under New Zealand conditions.

 

ANTI-DESICCANT WAX TRIAL:

Going the extra mile to increase survival of vines in unfavourable conditions

Though there are many factors that can be controlled when planting grapevines, the weather is not one of them. The anti-desiccant wax trial is looking at how to increase the survival of vines in unfavourable conditions.

When newly planted dormant vines are exposed to certain drying conditions their buds are at risk of desiccating and failing to achieve bud burst. 

This replicated trial looks at the use of anti-desiccant products that coat the buds of dormant vines and create a barrier between the buds and adverse environmental conditions.

The trial includes both field trials and a potted vine trial. The field trials are set in three different vineyards, two sites in Gisborne and one site in Marlborough, allowing different planting dates and conditions to be assessed. The potted trial allows environmental conditions to be controlled and the products to be tested in extreme conditions. By measuring the recovery and growth rates of the vines we can determine whether any of the trial products increases significantly the performance of the vines in adverse weather conditions.

Hawkes Bay Spore Trap 2 preview

GRAPEVINE TRUNK DISEASES:

Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity

Researchers in New Zealand and Australia are leading the world in developing strategies for wound protection against grapevine trunk pathogens. Fungicides have been identified with efficacy against the causal agents of eutypa and botryosphaeria dieback in grapevines.

Linnaeus is investigating pathogen spore dispersal as part of a collaborative research programme with scientists from Plant & Food Research into the optimal timing and duration of wound protection treatments.

Molecular diagnostic assays will be used to quantify inoculum levels of eutypa and botryosphaeria dieback pathogens in vineyards in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. Spore release will be related to climatic conditions. This research which is supported by New Zealand Winegrowers will lead to recommendations for effective management of grapevine trunk disease and is expected to improve the longevity of grapevines in New Zealand.

 

ORGANIC FERTILISER TRIAL:

Movement away from conventional slow release fertiliser and creating fertiliser out of local waste sources

Wherever nutrients are removed from the soil, they need to be replaced to maintain the fertility of the soil. This is definitely the case when removing millions of grafted grapevines from a field nursery. This trial looks at moving away from conventional slow release fertilisers and towards more sustainable soil fertility management practices with the end goal of turning local waste sources into a useable product.

MOLECULAR DIAGNOSTICS OF MICROBIAL PATHOGENS

Molecular diagnostic tools are becoming increasingly important for the rapid and sensitive detection of bacterial, fungal and other microbial pathogens that threaten primary and secondary industries. 

At Linnaeus, these tools are continuously being developed and/or implemented to specifically target pathogens of economic importance to grapevine, avocado and kiwifruit industries in New Zealand. 

Avocado nursery plants are routinely tested for avocado sunblotch viroid as part of New Zealand Avocado Growers High Health Scheme. In addition to nursery plant certification, molecular diagnostic tools based on real-time PCR technology are being used for quantitative assessment of pathogens in plants, soil, water and air to support ongoing research into effective disease management practices. 

The Linnaeus R&D team plays an important role in the validation of molecular diagnostic methods for international accreditation of food and water testing services that are provided by Linnaeus to private individuals, businesses and government organisations.

SOIL MICROBIAL COMMUNITY

The structure and functions of the soil microbial community are very dynamic and changes can potentially indicate circumstances in the soil that have significant influence on the development of plants. At Linnaeus we are implementing and testing a state-of-the-art suite of tests that will potentially allow us to monitor the structure and functions of the soil microbial community related to the health and fertility of the soil.