Italian researchers are close to completing the first map of the genetic identity of Pinot Noir.
Scientists at the San Michele all’Adige institute in Trentino, together with Myriad Genetics in the US, are the first in the world to have decoded the genome of a vine variety.
They hope the research will allow the development of vines better adapted to difficult climatic conditions and more resistant to pests, thereby reducing the use of pesticides.
Project director Riccardo Velasco told decanter.com, ‘Wine has been such an important part of human culture for more than 3,000 years, but wine biodiversity has barely been explored. Now that we have the wine genome in hand, exploration can proceed scientifically and rapidly.’
The genome is the sum of all the genetic information contained in a cell, organized into chromosomes which in turn contain the DNA that carries hereditary information.
The grape vine has 19 chromosomes containing around 500m nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. It is the complete sequence of these nucleotides, the code for the vine’s genetic information, that the researchers have determined.
In addition to the ongoing human genome project, genomes have previously been determined for relatively simple bacteria, mammals such as dogs, mice and rats, and plant species such as rice. This is the first time the genome for a fruiting plant has been determined.
San Michele intends to make the genome freely available to the international scientific community.
Written by David Rowe