The University of California Pierce’s Disease Grants Program and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease/Glassy Winged Sharpshooter Board are accepting proposals for research projects aimed at seeking solutions to the problem of Pierce’s disease, a devastating disease that threatens California’s grape industry.

The 1990s re-emergence of Pierce’s disease followed and has been linked to the invasion and establishment of the large leafhopper known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS). GWSS and certain other insects transmit the Pierce’s disease causative agent, the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, to grapevines and many other plants.

An area-wide GWSS management program has provided a degree of PD management. This program has required occasional removal of an entire vineyard and continuing inspection and treatment of nursery plants before shipment to prevent the spread of GWSS to other areas of the state. Nevertheless, an established GWSS infestation in southern California and episodic infestations of the GWSS in northern California reveal a continuing threat to California’s major grape and wine regions.

The joint UC-CDFA program is designed to promote research that will lead to mitigation of Pierce’s disease, particularly through economical, sustainable, and ecologically friendly approaches. There have been considerable scientific advances in understanding the disease and the organisms that transmit it in recent years, in significant measure from research supported by the UC and CDFA programs. Progress to date provides a substantial foundation for efforts at reducing the impact of this destructive disease.

Funding priority will be given to proposals that address key research needs and provide results that can be directly applied by grape growers. Submitters must include explanations of how their research can lead to reductions in Pierce’s disease problems and development of a sustainable management strategy.

Proposals are due Jan.16, 2007. Research contracts will be awarded for one to two years, beginning with the 2007-08 fiscal year. Award notifications will be sent out May 1, 2007, and funding is expected to be available July 1, 2007. For more information, including program priorities and requirements, and to submit proposals, visit http://www.pdgrants.ucdavis.edu.