Phylloxera Genomics Initiative
Grape phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch) is a historical pest of grapevine with
worldwide economic and ecological importance. Phylloxera is native to the eastern United States
of America where its natural hosts are American Vitis species. These natural hosts show varying
levels of resistance to the insect and a few accessions of Vitis spp. have been used to produce
rootstocks for use in commercial viticulture worldwide. The use of such rootstocks is, to‐date,
the only means by which economically viable grape production can be reliably maintained from
Vitis vinifera in a phylloxera‐infested vineyard. If the recent release of the grape genome has
accelerated rootstock breeding programmes, the long‐term stability of the host‐plant resistance
is conditioned to the non emergence of virulent phylloxera strains. However, there has been
recent evidence in Australia of the emergence of two apparently resistant phylloxera clones,
which suggests that previously host‐resistant plants can now be susceptible to phylloxera.
In contrast with the accurate and detailed historic studies on the biology of this insect, genetic
information is still quite limited on this potentially dangerous species for a major crop. We
propose the sequencing of the phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch) genome through an
integrated approach. Phylloxera, because of its basal phylogenetic relationship to aphids,
provides an interesting model for comparative genomics between aphids (in the broad sense).
The phylloxera sequence will also fill the gap between aphids and related taxa such as bugs,
cicadas and leafhoppers, psyllids and whiteflies.
Knowledge of the genome of the phylloxera will considerably improve our understanding of
many of the specific biological features of this invasive pest. This include identifying genes for
complex traits including those with relevance to the genetic basis of host‐plant interaction, to
leaf gall and root formation, to nutrition on grape, and to the developmental causes of extreme
phenotypic plasticity. Finally, knowledge of the phylloxera genome is also relevant to human and
economic well being by participating to reduce environmental cost and risk in viticulture.
Phylloxera White paper
Creation date: 26 May 2011
Update: 26 May 2011