This week, I have been preparing for one of my most important events of the summer: inoculation season! In a bit under 2 weeks, we will be spraying grapevines with a solution of G. bidwellii spores to assess their resistance to black rot in the vineyard.
In the meantime, however, we have to grow a lot of the fungus to have enough spores with which to inoculate. We grow the fungus in petri dishes on agar gel. Our agar is a mix of potato dextrose agar (PDA) and regular agar, to give it both the correct nutrients and consistency. From starter cultures which my mentor, Beth, so slavingly maintains, we remove small chunks of fungus on agar and transfer them to a fresh plate. The fungi then grow to fill the plates, and the cycle repeats. In this way, we propagate the black rot. This work takes place in a sterile hood, which maintains sterility through the laminar flow of air through the hood.
So thats all I’ve really been up to for the first week, aside from a few trips to the vineyard with Bruce and Beth to check flowering dates.