Chris Steel completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK) in microbiology in 1986 and subsequently conducted periods of post-doctoral training at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, with the agrochemical company Dr R Maag AG in Switzerland and with the NSW Department of Agriculture in Rydalmere, Australia. A focus of his research at this time was physiological plant pathology, fungicide resistance and elucidation of the mode of actions of a range of pesticides used in agriculture. In 1995 he joined Charles Sturt University as an academic in viticulture. He is currently Professor of Viticulture at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at Charles Sturt University. Current research projects include the management and epidemiology of bunch rot diseases, identification and detection of grapevine fungal pathogens and impacts of vine pathogens on wine chemistry and quality. The impact of climate and the environment on grape production have been a major focus of his research.
His teaching responsibilities cover general viticulture and oenology and supervision of post-graduate students.
He has conducted numerous workshops for grape growers and wine makers in Australia and has presented his research widely around the globe in diverse countries including Argentina, Chile, France, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, UK and the USA.
Specialisation: Vine Pathology and Disease Management
Focus area: Bunch Rots, Disease Management, Pathogen Detection, Impacts of Vine Diseases on Wine Composition
A number of fungi, including Botrytis cinerea, can cause grape bunch rots. Some of these fungi such as ripe rot (Colletotrichum spp.) and bitter rot (Greeneria uvicola) are associated with sub-tropical viticulture, while others are associated with warm dry inland vineyards (e.g. Aspergillus spp.). A focus of this research is to characterise the biology and behaviour of the different fungi associated with the rotting of grape berries and how disease occurrence is dependent upon environmental factors and interactions with the grape berry biota. The research is integrated with the impacts these fungi have on the sensory and chemical properties of wine. The overall aim of this research is improved understanding of how bunch rots affect grape and wine production and improved disease management.