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New rapid antigen tests (RATs) for Botrytis detection

Perhaps one of the only upsides to come from COVID-19 is the familiarity that many people now have with rapid antigen tests (RATs), and it’s this type of test that researchers and winemakers believe shows promise for quickly and cheaply quantifying Botrytis.

Over the recent harvest, winemakers and growers have been working with Professor Chris Steel from Charles Sturt University with funding from Wine Australia to evaluate a commercially produced Botrytis test kit under Australian conditions. Preliminary data of the rapid test kits shows that the results are comparable with those from more complex, time consuming or costly methods.

If found to be suitable in a wine sector setting, the kit will provide a rapid and simple method to not just detect, but also to quantify the amount of Botrytis present in grape and wine samples. The RAT-like tests are produced by Global Access Diagnostics (GADx) with the result measured on a device called a ‘cube reader’ which fits in the palm of the hand and estimates the amount of Botrytis present in a grape sample in ten minutes.

Being able to quantify Boytytis bunch rot contamination in real-time empowers winegrape growers, agronomists and scientists to objectively make management decisions. Unlike other rapid methods for fungal detection such as PCR, the antigen detection requires a relatively low level of operator skill.

So how does it work? Grape samples are crushed and then a test strip is placed in the juice. The test strip is then inserted into the cube reader, and after 10 minutes a numerical result is obtained.

In association with the research team at Charles Sturt University, a number of wineries are currently evaluating the applicability of the method in a winery setting, comparing the GADx antigen detection kit with their existing methods of Botrytis estimation at the winery receival area during vintage. Preliminary data indicates that results obtained by the GADx kit are comparable with existing methods for Botrytis contamination of grape samples.


Source: Wine Australia 

Published on 05/25/2023
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