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Grape virus expert Fuchs wins industry research award

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Marc Fuchs, right, accepts the 2016 Research Award from Tom Burr, board member at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

Marc Fuchs received the 2016 Research Award from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation on March 3 for his work protecting the state’s grape industry.

Fuchs, associate professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, studies the biology and ecology of viruses that directly impact the economic viability of New York grapes.

The presence of viruses in vineyards across New York is a key threat to the state’s burgeoning wine industry. Fuchs’ research focuses on understanding the spread of viruses, developing reliable detection techniques and contributing effective management strategies.

“Through my research, we are exploring the genetic variability of virus populations and interactions between viruses, vectors and plant hosts,” Fuchs said. “These activities result in a better understanding of virus infection and the development of innovative approaches to protect crops against virus diseases.”

Fuchs was credited specifically for research into the pervasive vineyard diseases leafroll and red blotch.

Leafroll disease attacks the grapevine and is present in every major grape-growing region in the world. The disease causes significant yield losses and delays fruit ripening. In New York, diseased cabernet franc grapes can reduce yields by 50 percent and degrade fruit quality, according to Fuchs.

Grapevines infected with red blotch virus exhibit chlorotic areas on the leaves. The disease can delay ripening and alter juice chemistry, ultimately impacting the taste of cabernet franc, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines.

Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media manager for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Melissa Osgood