Responses to climatic and pathogen threats differ in biodynamic and conventional vines
Viticulture is of high socio-economic importance; however, its prevalent practices severely impact the environment and human health, and criticisms from society are raising. Vine managements systems are further challenged by climatic changes. Of the 8 million hectares grown worldwide, conventional and organic practices cover 90% and 9% of acreage, respectively. Biodynamic cultivation accounts for 1%. Although economic success combined with low environmental impact is widely claimed by biodynamic winegrowers from California, to South Africa, and France, this practice is still controversial in viticulture and scientific communities. To rethink the situation, we encouraged stakeholders to confront conventional and biodynamic paradigms in a Participative-Action-Research. Co-designed questions were followed up by holistic comparison of conventional and biodynamic vineyard managements. Here we show that the amplitude of plant responses to climatic threats was higher in biodynamic than conventional management. The same stood true for seasonal trends and pathogens attacks. This was associated with higher expression of silencing and immunity genes, and higher anti-oxidative and anti-fungal secondary metabolite levels. This suggests that sustainability of biodynamic practices probably relies on fine molecular regulations. Such knowledge should contribute to resolving disagreements between stakeholders and help designing the awaited sustainable viticulture at large.