A Toast – To the Genetic Diversity of Grapes

Authored by technologynetworks.com and submitted by molrose96
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Here's a discovery well worth toasting: A research team led by Professor Brandon Gaut with the University of California, Irvine and Professor Dario Cantu with the University of California, Davis has deciphered the genome of the Chardonnay grape. By doing so, they have uncovered something fascinating: grapes inherit different numbers of genes from their mothers and fathers. Their paper has been published in Nature Plants.

The team devoted three years of study to what are known as structural variants, or chromosome changes, in the genomes of the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to determine their genetic similarity. Each of the fruits has about 37,000 genes.

"Each of us inherits one copy of their gene from their mother and one from their father," said Professor Gaut. "One would assume that the grapes inherit two copies of every gene, too, with one coming from each of their two parents. However, we found there was just one copy, not two, for 15 percent of the genes in Chardonnay, and it was also true of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Together, that means that grape varieties differ in the presence or absence of thousands of genes."

"These genetic differences probably contribute to many of the differences in taste between wines made from different grape varieties" said Professor Cantu. And they definitely contribute to one important feature of grapes: their color.

The research team showed that red grapes have mutated into white grapes on several different occasions. Each mutation included a large chromosomal change that altered the number of copies of key color genes. Fewer copies of the color genes cause white grapes.

In addition to providing key scientific knowledge to vintners, the scientists say their findings have important implications for understanding the nutritional values among other fruits and vegetables. Structural variations have largely been unexplored in plant genomes, but Professor Gaut says the research is important for understanding what lies within the fruits and vegetables we eat. "For example, even between the various types of heirloom tomatoes, structural variations could account for differing nutritional values," he said. "Better understanding the genetic composition of species enables us to access tools that improve plant breeding."

Reference: Zhou et al. 2019. The population genetics of structural variants in grapevine domestication. Nature Plants. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-019-0507-8.

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CyberneticPanda on September 11st, 2019 at 01:17 UTC »

This article seems to be extremely misleading. I couldn't find the paper to read on libgen, but based on the abstract, the hemizygous (one copy instead of two) genes come from mutations in clonally propagated grape vines, not from inheriting different numbers of genes from each parent.

superkleenex on September 11st, 2019 at 00:09 UTC »

They already knew about cross breeding grape varietals to grow a cold weather grape so the Midwest could grow grapes. The part where it's not 50/50 is interesting to say the least.

gking407 on September 10th, 2019 at 23:29 UTC »

I’ve heard of wine connoisseurs but grape genetics? That’s a whole other level.