The partnership applies the genome search engine to 7,000 vines

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A new partnership revealing the genetic secrets hidden in 7,000 vines provides clues that could make the American wine industry more resilient and provide new types of grapes for the benefit of growers and consumers.

Breeding overview – a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) project that provides advanced resources for specialty crop breeding programs – and VitisGen2 – one multi-institution research collaboration led at Cornell AgriTech to develop new grape varieties – jointly fund an effort to map the genomes of two vast collections of grapevine germplasm at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, and at the University of California, Davis, organized by USDA Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). The aim is to make the data available to public and private breeders.

Using the ‘rhAmpSeq’ platform developed by VitisGen2, each sample will contain 2,000 DNA markers spanning all 19 vine chromosomes, allowing more detailed comparisons of genetic traits than ever before.

“Ultimately, we’ll have the most detailed grapevine genotypic dataset ever created,” said Moira Sheehan, director of the Breeding Insight project.

The extensive collections curated by the USDA-ARS are treasures for the grape industry and the many products it supports, including wine, jams, fresh fruit and more, in a growing economic sector. ‘worth over $ 219 billion and a major industry in California, Washington, New York, Oregon and Texas.

Lance Cadle-Davidson, VitisThe co-lead of the Gen2 project and a USDA-ARS geneticist based at Cornell AgriTech, cited the benefits of characterizing germplasm collections.

“One of the reasons to do this is to find out what genetic diversity exists in Vitis,” said Cadle-Davidson. “If we can capture all of this genetic diversity, it will actually speed up our analysis of breeding lines and help us identify the genetic basis of desirable traits. “

“It’s like Google is going out and fetching words from all the websites so they can run their search algorithms faster,” he said.

To date, the two VitisGen projects discovered more than 70 DNA markers identified in grape genes for fruit quality and disease resistance traits – the results VitisGen projects are built on improved processes and datasets with support from Breeding Insight.

“Cheng Zou from VitisGen and Dongyan Zhao of Breeding Insight have both developed marker-assisted breeding pipelines, ”said Cadle-Davidson. “We wanted an objective way to process the data and provide statistical and quantitative predictions, whereas previously we were just looking at DNA marker data subjectively. “

“It is extremely valuable to enter the art of reproduction into a database for modern analytical tools in order to predict why the artist succeeded – which traits were selected and, what is also important, what failed. “, did he declare.

“How do you talk to a breeder who is about to retire and convince him to use these [informatics] tools? ”Sheehan says.“ They need to be able to pass it on to the next person to continue development and understand the context of the 35 years of work that they have done.

“If I can convince them to put something in a data management system and secure their data, then it becomes accessible to other people. “

VitisGen2 is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative. Breeding Insight is funded by the USDA-ARS through a grant to Cornell.

A version of this article appeared on the VitisGen2 website.

Tim Martinson is Senior Extension Associate at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York. Michelle Podolec is an Extension Support Specialist with the Statewide Wine Extension Program, based at Cornell AgriTech. Vanessa Greenlee is responsible for communications and training at Breeding Insight.


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