Grant Amount - Phase One, SCRI Grant, $4,563,164 through August 2017
“VitisGen: Accelerating Grape Cultivar Improvement via Phenotyping Centers and Next Generation Markers,” led by Drs. Bruce Reisch and Lance Cadle-Davidson, focused on identifying several traits: powdery mildew resistance, low temperature responses, and fruit quality, looking to “map the way to the next generation of grapes.” The work continues in VitisGen2, which received SCRI funding in 2017.
Powdery mildew affects vineyards worldwide, resulting in reduced yields, stunted growth and lower fruit quality. New resistant varieties will help to improve vineyards’ sustainability by reducing fungicide applications and preventing the development of resistance to available treatments.
Low temperatures impact the range and growing season of grapes. Improved cold tolerance and budbreak timing could allow for greater adaptability to a changing climate and the development of economically significant grape-based industries in new regions of the US.
Grape varieties that can resist disease and tolerate cold weather may be associated with undesirable aromas/flavors. Identification of varieties that have advantageous traits coupled with high fruit quality will lead to better grapes for wine, juice, raisins, and fresh fruit.
The goals of the project are:
• Identify high priority vine performance and fruit quality traits with documented economic value to the grape industry and to the consumer.
• Discover, identify, and improve these high priority traits using both traditional and modern biological approaches.
• Enhance communication regarding the value of improved knowledge of grape genomics, new varieties, new technologies, and the evolving needs of the grape industry and consumers.
A coordinating meeting with the project’s industry advisory council has been held each of the five years of the project to discuss accomplishments and review progress. Industry representatives provided technical advice throughout the project, from its development through implementation. For three years, NGRA has provided support for a post-doc to help identify the genes affecting powdery mildew resistance. In addition, in November of 2013, the NGRA Executive Committee acknowledged that there are bottlenecks in the processing of chromosome mapping data. The Executive Committee voted to commit to provide $75,000 funding for each of the three subsequent years for a computation biologist to assist with the processing bottleneck. In the first quarter of 2014, NGRA worked to secure this level of funding, with a three-year commitment.
Visit the VitisGen website for complete project information: http://www.vitisgen.org.