Carolyn first came to Lincoln to do a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology degree (BV&O), in pursuit of a career change that would allow her to follow her passion. Though she had begun the program thinking she would like to own her own vineyard, after completing her BV&O a series of events led her to work on a research project surveying New Zealand vineyards to determine the incidence and distribution of the grapevine disease ‘Cylindrocarpon black foot’. As a result of this project, Carolyn began a Master’s degree investigating possible methods to control black foot disease, but the project was so ambitious that after 18 months it was upgraded to a PhD.
Now, five years into her PhD work, Carolyn is writing up the results of the many trials that comprise her research. These have included both field and in vitro studies looking at cultural, chemical, and biological methods of control. The initial studies investigated treatments to be implemented in nurseries, such as hot water treatment, chemical treatments, and the biocontrol agent Trichoderma. The hot water treatment was very effective in ridding the nursery vines of the disease pathogens, however the vines appeared to become re-infected upon planting in the vineyard.
For this reason, Carolyn focused her investigation on treating the soil and so tested treatments such as: composts, chemical fumigation, biofumigation with mustard treatments and colonization of the young roots by mycorrhizae species. While some experiments are still being analysed, the results of a substantial part of her research have recently been submitted as a New Zealand Winegrowers report and will be of great use to the New Zealand wine industry in its fight against black foot disease.