VitisGen3, 2022-2026

Lead Authors: Drs. Matthew Clark, University of Minnesota, Project Director

This project, whose complete title is "Completing the Grapevine Powdery Mildew Resistance Pipeline: From Genes-on-the-Shelf to Sticks-in-the-Ground," is the third installment of VitisGen, intended to bring the initial vision of powdery mildew-resistant grapevines with high fruit quality across the finish line.

The project aims to advance grape breeding by using the latest technologies to identify and test gene candidates, deliver advanced information — including computer-vision phenotyping, artificial intelligence, and DNA markers — to all U.S. grape breeders, develop disease-control programs, and train vineyard managers and Extension personnel across the U.S. in their use.

Specifically, the project objectives and hypotheses (H) to be tested are:

1) Genes on the shelf. Test candidate genes and explore allelic diversity in Vitis to confirm gene function and develop perfect DNA markers for routine use in breeding programs. Combine resistance genes and maximize universal defense pathways for durable deployment in new cultivars. H: a) Candidate genes can be identified and refined through genomics tools. b) Resistance gene function is most simply observed by measuring phenotypes resulting from knock-outs, generated through gene editing. c) Defense responses have universal pathways that can result in broad-spectrum resistance via gene editing.
2) Tools in the toolbox. Deploy a field-based, computer vision (CV) phenotyping platform for PM and key visible traits to U.S. grape breeders. Continue to support genomics tools and marker utilization for breeders and genetics research. H: a) CV will improve phenotype prediction over current categorical rating scales. b) Genome-wide DNA markers will accelerate trait introgression from wild Vitis and enrich research discoveries and transferability.
3) Resistant sticks in the ground. Develop and implement a strategic nation-wide extension program that trains vineyard managers on best practices to maintain resistance in new plantings. Develop and screen breeding lines for resistance, fruit quality, and regionally important traits. H: a) Early detection of virulent outbreaks in new plantings of resistant cultivars will help target pesticides to maintain deployed resistance with a 90% reduction in inputs. b) Implementing tools (2a & b) will lead to gene discovery and new elite, resistant cultivars.
4) Grapes on the table. New variety adoption is consumer-driven across all grape and wine sectors. Mature markets limit adoption despite a need for sustainable varieties. H: a) Consumer information overloading contributes to purchasing behaviors. b) Eye-tracking can be used to determine which features on product labels are important for alerting consumers to sustainably produced products from resistant cultivars.

This transdisciplinary project includes collaborators from Cornell University at Geneva and Ithaca, USDA-ARS at Geneva and Parlier, South Dakota State University, North Dakota State University, Missouri State University, University of California-Davis, Washington State University at Puyallup and Prosser, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, University of Arkansas, Virginia Tech and the University of Georgia.

Follow the project online at

Theme Committee Assignment
Genetics and Grapevine Improvement
Grant Type
Grant Amount / Funding Year
$10 Million / 2022
Lead Author
Dr. Matthew Clark
Lead Institution
University of Minnesota
Grant Period
$'s Per Year
Approx. $2.5 million