Candidatus Phytoplasma solani is the phytopathogen responsible for the diseases known as "Bois Noir" or "stolbur". It is a non-classified, non-quarantine organism and represents minimal risk of transmission.
"Flavescence dorée" is a grapevine-restricted phytopathogen classified as a Risk Group 3 organism in Switzerland, which would normally incur a BSL3 activity. However, for diagnostic purposes, and considering that it is impossible to cultivate or amplify phytoplasma in a lab, our activity was downgraded to BSL2. All activities involving the pathogen were reported to and approved by the Federal Office of the Environment via the Ecogen portal.
Four members of our team attended a formation on working in a P2 & P3 environment, dispensed by the Security, Prevention and Health Office of EPFL. Consequently, they were granted access to a P2 lab on campus, where all the experiments involving potentially infected material were conducted. The appropriate lab equipment was obtained with the help of our lab supervisor.
Plant sampling was performed in the vineyard under the surveilance of the phytosanitary inspector. The leaves were transported, labeled and stored in a double container following the BSL2 safety requirements. Long-term storage material was kept in a separate (properly labeled) compartment in a -20°C freezer. Waste was destroyed by autoclave.