History of ICVG

Meeting participants at the third meeting on grapevine infectious degeneration, May 1962.

The idea of creating a scientific working group dealing with viruses and virus-like diseases of grapevine emerged during the third meeting on grapevine infectious degeneration that was organized by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) in May 1962. The virologists present at the meeting had the vision of creating an international study group independent of OIV with the aim of providing an opportunity for grapevine virologists to engage in constructive debates about their research, methodologies and accomplishments. Although the decision to create an independent group caused disappointment and anger among some OIV members, good relationships were maintained with this organization. Consequently, OIV agreed to publish the first ICVG bibliography prepared by A. Caudwell in 1965, and to organize a joint meeting in Montpellier in 1970. ICVG is invited to participate at each OIV meeting as "observers" and several ICVG members serve on the OIV experts' group on "Grape diseases".

The first ICVG meeting took place at the Federal Agricultural Research Station of Changins in Switzerland on August 17-20, 1964. About 30 participants were in attendance. During the meeting, a provisory steering committee was set up with the following members: E. Baldacci (Italy), R. Bovey (Switzerland), A. Ciccarone (Italy), H. Dias (Portugal), W. Gärtel (Germany), W.B. Hewitt (USA) and A. Vuittenez (France). William B. Hewitt (USA) acted as the first president and continued serving as the president until 1987. Giovanni P. Martelli serves as president since the meeting in Kyriat Anavim, Israel, in 1987. René Bovey served as the secretary from 1964 to 2006 followed by Paul Gugerli (2006 to 2012) and Marc F. Fuchs since the meeting in Davis, California, USA in 2012.

ICVG Founding Fathers

Here we pay tribute to those individuals who were instrumental in guiding the foundation of ICVG and served with distinction for many years.

Elio Baldacci (Italy, 1909-1987) was an internationally renowned scientist and a distinguished professor of phytopathology primarily at the University of Milan, Italy where he directed the Institute of Plant Pathology and was Dean of Faculty of Agriculture from 1964-1975. In the 1950s, he studied grapevine viruses and the method of clonal selection which, perfected over the following decade, would then be a model for similar studies and achievements in many European countries and beyond. He was one of the founders of the Lombard Museum of Agricultural History.

René Bovey (Switzerland, 1919-2018) was prominent founding member of ICVG and first secretary, serving until 2006. Bovey joined the Federal Agricultural Research Station of Changins, Switzerland in 1951 where he developed a plant virology program and created an electron microscopy facility. From 1959 until his retirement in 1984 he directed the Plant Protection department. He introduced schemes to produce healthy plant propagation material with a particular focus on viral diseases of grapevine and fruit trees. His academically prized contributions to the editing of journals and books such as "La Défence des plantes cultivées" or "Virus and Virus-like Diseases of Grapevines" are only part of his legacy to the international scientific community and farmers. His unique bibliographic compilations remained invaluable for ICVG.

Antonio Ciccarone (Italy, 1909-1982) had an international career in plant pathology at institutions in Italy, Ethiopia, Kenya, Venezuela, and Caracas. In 1957, he settled at the University of Bari, Italy. Ciccarone founded the Plant Pathology Institute at the Universities of Bari and Catania. Although Ciccarone was primarily a mycologist, he had a keen interest in all branches of plant pathology, including virology. Ciccarone was one of the first Italian phytopathologists to recognize the importance of virus diseases of grapevine. He was also one of the first to attempt heat therapy for the elimination of grapevine fanleaf disease in 1969. This involvement led him to enthusiastically join ICVG. Ciccarone founded and chaired the Mediterranean Phytopathological Union and the Italian Phytopathological Association. He also founded and served as senior editor at Phytopathologia Mediterranea.

Humberto Dias (Portugal,1921-1980) worked in Portugal, England, and Canada on grapevine viruses. In 1962, Dias was responsible for the arrangements of the grapevine virus meetings for the 3rd International Conference on Virus and Degenerative Diseases of the Grapevine sponsored by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) which resulted in the formation of ICVG. Dias made substantial contributions to the knowledge of grapevine viruses and to disease problems in the vineyard. In collaboration with others, he was the first to demonstrate sap-transmission of viruses from grapevine to herbaceous plants. Dias also developed a comprehensive program for the production, maintenance and utilization of virus-tested and virus disease free grapevines in Canada.

Wilhelm Gärtel (Germany, 1920-1991) was Director of the Institute for Vine Diseases in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany. Gärtel was a soil scientist whose scientific work included the detection of grapevine diseases and their control, grapevine viruses, vine nutrition with macro and micronutrients, environmental pollution through the leaching of nutrients. He was an author of more than 150 publications and collaborated with Giovanni Martelli and ICVG founding fathers Bovey, Hewitt, and Vuittenez on "Virus and Virus-like Diseases of Grapevines" and other foundational grape virus works. His intensive contact with viticulture practice showed in his excellent photographic images. He was highly regarded, receiving international honors for his work.

William B. Hewitt (USA, 1908-1998) acted as the first ICVG president and continued serving as the president until 1987. Hewitt had a life-long association with the University of California at Davis where he joined the Department of Plant Pathology in 1937. His primary interest was in the etiology, epidemiology, and control of diseases of the grapevine. He is known especially for the separation and identification of several viruses in grapevines, the demonstration of virus transmission by an ectoporasitic nematode, and is called the father of modern grapevine virology. He developed protocols for detecting virus-infected plants, as well as methods for eradicating viruses from these plants by thermotherapy. Virus-free plants were made available to the industry through what is now Foundation Plant Services. He also directed a program by which foreign grapevines could be imported under federal quarantine. These activities providing many opportunities to advise on the establishment of similar clean stock programs around the world.

André Vuittenez (France, 1923-2010) began a scientific career in 1946 at the central research station of INRA (National Institute for Agronomic Research) in Versailles, France. In 1949 he became director of research and managed the plant pathology station in Colmar for 35 years until his retirement in 1984. Vuittenez primarily focused on grapevine and sugar beet diseases. His contributions to grapevine fanleaf disease assured him rapidly of an international reputation. Vuittenez was also instrumental in the development of the sanitary selection of grapevine in France. By applying heat therapy, he obtained clean vines of several selections, including the heritage cultivar Klevener of Heiligenstein. Vuittenez published numerous articles, co-authored the book "Virus and Virus-like Diseases of Grapevine" in 1980, and left modern tools for the investigation of plant viruses.

View abstracts and proceedings from past meetings

Past ICVG meetings:

  1. Changins (Switzerland) on August 17-20, 1964. The convener was R. Bovey. Field trips were organized in Jura and Burgundy (France).
  2. Davis, California (USA) on September 7-11, 1965. The convener was W.B. Hewitt.
  3. Bernkastel-Kues (Germany) on September 1967. The convener was W. Gärtel.
  4. Colmar (France) on June 16-18, 1970.  The conveners were A. Vuittenez and A. Caudwell.  Visits to vineyards in Horbourg and Riquewihr were organized and a meeting with O.I.V. was held at Montpellier to discuss practical applications of virological knowledge to viticulture.
  5. Salice Terme (Italy) on September 16-23, 1973. Field trips to Tuscany and Sicily (organized by E. Baldacci, G. Belli and E. Refatti).
  6. Cordoba and Madrid (Spain) on September 12-17, 1976. Post conference tour in the Rioja and Villafranca del Penedes viticultural regions (organized by A.Peña-Iglesias and Committee).
  7. Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada) on September 7-12, 1980. Field trips to Geneva, NY (USA) and East Lansing, MI (USA) (organized by H. Dias).
  8. Bari (Italy) on September 2-7, 1984. Post conference tour in Sardinia (organized by G.P. Martelli and U. Prota).
  9. Kiryat Anavim (Israel) on September, 6-11 1987. Post conference tour in northern Israel (organized by E. Tanne and Committee).
  10. Volos (Greece) on September 3-7 1990. Post conference tour in southern Greece (organized by I.C. Rumbos and Committee).
  11. Montreux (Switzerland) on September 5-10, 1993. Post conference tour in Valais (organized by P. Gugerli and Committee).
  12. Lisbon (Portugal) from September 28 to October 2, 1997. Post conference tour in northern Portugal (organized by O.A. De Sequeira and Committee).
  13. Adelaide (South Australia) on March 12-17, 2000 (organized by R.H. Symons and Committee).
  14. Locorotondo (Italy) on September 12-17, 2003. Technical and historical tours in Southern Italy, including Lecce and Pompei (organized by G.P. Martelli and Committee).
  15. Stellenbosch (South Africa) on April 3-7, 2006. Technical tours in Stellenbosch-Paarl region (organized by J. Burger and Committee).
  16. Dijon (France) from August 31 to September 4, 2009. Technical tours in Burgundy and Jura vineyards (organized by E- Boudon-Padieu and Committee).
  17. Davis, California (USA) on October 7-17, 2012. Technical tours in Napa Valley and Central Valley (organized by D.A. Golino and Committee).
  18. Ankara, Turkey on September 7-11, 2015. Technical tours at Ankara University and near Cappadocia (organized by Filiz Ertunç and committee).
  19. Santiago, Chile on April 9-12, 2018. Technical tours at Viña San Pedro and Viveros Valentina (organized by Nicola Fiore and committee)

Contact: Dr. Maher Al Rwahnih | Foundation Plant Services | University of California, Davis
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616 | Email: malrwahnih@ucdavis.edu