VitisGen2 Receives SCRI Grant

VitisGen2 has received Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grant funding, and is set to begin work September 1. An NGWI-supported project, VitisGen was launched to work toward developing new grape cultivars with high fruit quality (FQ) and resistance to powdery mildew (PM). Congratulations—and good luck—to co-PIs Dr. Bruce Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, and Dr. Lance Cadle-Davidson, plant pathologist with the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit also located at Geneva!

In the second phase of this game-changing research, the VitisGen team will expand on progress made in developing novel economic, phenotyping and genetics knowledge and tools related to new grape cultivars. And they plan to translate these and previous VitisGen innovations into new applications for improving grape breeding programs and managing existing vineyard plantings. Specifically…

  • The Economics team will evaluate the consequences of introducing new grape traits, including impacts upon cost, yield, revenue, profit, pesticide use, and the environment.
  • The Trait Evaluation team will develop novel high-throughput methods, and apply these along with proven approaches to characterize a range of phenotypes, such as PM resistance durability and undesirable fruit qualities, as well as locally important traits.
  • The Genetics team will couple phenotyping results with high-resolution genetic maps, which can be combined with genome assembly and RNA-Seq analyses to develop inexpensive, high-resolution markers spanning key genes.
  • The Breeding team will maintain the grapevine families under study, apply the team’s new knowledge in genetics and marker-assisted selection to current breeding programs, and study the genetics of traits of local interest.
  • The Outreach team will communicate scientific opportunities and discoveries, and provide stakeholders with knowledge of the benefits of adopting new high-quality PM-resistant cultivars along with new tools for characterizing PM and FQ in their existing plantings.

The work will utilize plant breeding and genomics approaches to improve grape characteristics and enhance the economic and environmental sustainability of grape production, potentially saving the U.S. grape industry millions each year and improving the quality of American grapes and grape products, according to Dr. Reisch.

To learn more about the team’s accomplishments to-date, check out the just-published Appellation Cornell article. And stay up-to-date with the project and meet the people behind it at