Australasian Plant Pathology Australasian Plant Pathology Society
Research in all branches of plant pathology

Mode of action of milk and whey in the control of grapevine powdery mildew

P. Crisp A D , T. J. Wicks B , G. Troup C and E. S. Scott A

A School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, PMB 1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

B South Australian Research and Development Institute, GPO Box 397, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

C Faculty of Engineering, School of Physics and Materials Engineering, Monash University, Vic. 3800, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australasian Plant Pathology 35(5) 487-493
Submitted: 25 January 2006  Accepted: 6 June 2006   Published: 4 September 2006


Grapevine powdery mildew, caused by the fungus Erysiphe (Uncinula) necator, is a major disease affecting grape yield and quality worldwide. In conventional vineyards, the disease is controlled mainly by regular applications of sulfur and synthetic fungicides and, in organic agriculture, by sulfur and botanical and mineral oils. Research has identified milk and whey as potential replacements for synthetic fungicides and sulfur in the control of powdery mildew. Electron spin resonance and scanning electron microscopy were used to investigate the possible mode or modes of action of milk and whey in the control of powdery mildew. Electron spin resonance experiments showed that various components of milk produced oxygen radicals in natural light, which may have contributed to the reduction of severity of powdery mildew on treated leaves. Milk and whey caused the hyphae of E. necator to collapse and damaged conidia within 24 h of treatment. Hydrogen peroxide, applied as a source of free radicals, also caused collapse of the hyphae of E. necator but did not damage conidia, and appeared to stimulate germination. Lactoferrin (an antimicrobial component of milk) ruptured conidia, but damage to hyphae was not evident until 48 h after treatment. The results support the hypothesis that free radical production and the action of lactoferrin are associated with the control of powdery mildew by milk.

Additional keyword: organic viticulture.


Batish VK Chander H Zumdegni KC Bhatia KL Singh RS 1988 Antimicrobial activity of lactoferrin against some common food-borne pathogenic organisms. Australian Journal of Dairy Technology 42 16 18

Bettiol W 1999 Effectiveness of cow’s milk against zucchini squash powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca fuliginea) in greenhouse conditions. Crop Protection (Guildford, Surrey) 18 489 492

Chellemi DO Marois JJ 1992 Influence of leaf removal, fungicide applications and fruit maturity on incidence and severity of grape powdery mildew. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 43 53 57

Crisp P Scott ES Wicks TJ 2000 Towards biological control of powdery mildew of grapevine in cool climate viticulture in Australia. Australian Grapegrower and Winemaker 440 27 30

Crisp P , Scott ES , Wicks TJ (2002) Novel control of grapevine powdery mildew. In ‘Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Grapevine Powdery and Downy Mildew’. (Eds DM Gadoury, C Gessler, G Grove, WD Gubler, GK Hill, HH Kassemeyer, WK Kast, J Rumbolz, ES Scott) pp. 78–79. (University of California: Davis, CA)

Crisp P , Scott ES , Wicks TJ (2003) Mode of action of potential novel controls of grapevine powdery mildew, Uncinula necator. In ‘Proceedings of the 2nd National Organic Conference, Adelaide, Australia’. pp 133–136.

Evans KJ Whisson DL Scott ES 1996 An experimental system for characterising isolates of Uncinula necator. Mycological Research 100 675 680

Hoffman ME Meneghini R 1979 DNA strand breaks in mammalian cells exposed to light in the presence of riboflavin and tryptophan. Photochemistry and Photobiology 29 299 303

Imlay JA Lin S 1988 DNA damage and oxygen radical toxicity. Science 240 1302 1309

Jordan CM Wakeman RJ DeVay JE 1992 Toxicity of free riboflavin and methionine-riboflavin solutions to Phytophthora infestans and the reduction of potato late blight disease. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 38 1108 1111

Kanyshkova TG Buneva VN Nevinsky GA 2000 Lactoferrin and its biological functions. Biochemistry 66 1 7

Korycha-Dahl M Richardson T 1978 Photogeneration of superoxide anion in serum of bovine milk and in model systems containing riboflavin and amino acids. Journal of Dairy Science 61 400 407

Kuipers ME De Vries HG Eikelboom MC Meijer DKF Swart PJ 1999 Synergistic fungistatic effects of lactoferrin in combination with antifungal drugs against clinical Candida isolates. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 43 2635 2641

Magarey PA Gadoury DM Emmett RW Biggins LT Clark K Watchel MF Wicks TJ Seem RC 1997 Cleistothecia of Uncinula necator in Australia. Viticultural and Enological Science 52 210 218

Modler HW Schroder KE Pratt CE 1998 Inhibition of bacterial growth in whey by the activation of lactoperoxidase. Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation 332 32 46

Ough CS Berg HW 1979 Powdery mildew sensory effect on wine. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 30 321

Riechel P Weiss T Weiss M Ulber H Buchholz H Scheper T 1998 Determination of the minor whey protein bovine lactoferrin in cheese whey concentrates with capillary electrophoresis. Journal of Chromatography A 817 187 193

Sallmann F Baveye-Descamps S Pattus F Salmon V Branza N Spik G Legrande D 1999 Porins OmpC and PhoE of Escherichia coli as specific cell-surface targets of human lactoferrin, binding characteristics and biological effects. Journal of Biological Chemistry 274 16107 16114 doi:10.1074/jbc.274.23.16107

Samaranayake YH Samaranayake LP Pow EHN Beena VT Yeung KWS 2001 Antifungal effects of lysozyme and lactoferrin against genetically similar, sequential Candida albicans isolates from a human immunodeficiency virus-infected southern Chinese cohort. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 39 3296 3302 doi:10.1128/JCM.39.9.3296-3302.2001

Tzeng DD DeVay JE 1984 Ethylene production and toxigenicity of methionine and its derivatives with riboflavin in cultures of Verticillium, Fusarium and Colletotrichum species exposed to light. Physiological Plant Pathology 62 545 552 doi:10.1111/j.1399-3054.1984.tb02797.x

Tzeng DD DeVay JE 1989 Biocidal activity of mixtures of methionine and riboflavin against plant pathogenic fungi and bacteria and possible modes of action. Mycologia 81 402 412

Full Text PDF (805.4 KB) Export Citation