banner

Chardonnay grapes

While deciphering the genome of the Chardonnay grape, researchers at the University of California uncovered something fascinating: grapes inherit different numbers of genes from their mothers and fathers. The study has been published in Nature Plants.

The team of scientists, led by Brandon Gaut at the University of California–Irvine and Dario Cantu at the University of California–Davis, spent three years studying structural variants, or chromosome changes, in the genomes of the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to determine their genetic similarity. Each variety has about 37,000 genes.

Unlike humans, who inherit one copy of each gene from their mother and one from their father, the grapes do not have two copies of every gene. Explains 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% 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 Cantu. And they also contribute to one important feature of grapes: their color. The researchers demonstrated that red grapes 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 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 noted. “Better understanding the genetic composition of species enables us to access tools that improve plant breeding.”

More from IFTNEXT right arrow

Learning about human appetites from the common fruit fly

Insights into the diets of the tiny common fruit fly may help provide understandings into how humans evolved to eat what we eat, according to new research published in Cell Reports and a press release from Kyoto University.

Identifying the genes that control plant traits

An international team of scientists led by the University of Goettingen has developed a new approach to identifying the genes that control plant traits.

Students engineer honey using bacterium, not bees

A team of 12 students from the Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has won a gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston for its bee-free honey.

Growing crops in high-salinity soil

Earth’s soil is becoming more saline, and as it does, growing crops becomes more difficult or impossible. Scientists at Brigham Young University (BYU) may have discovered a way to prevent soil salinity from ruining crops and crop yields.

Latest News right arrow

Barry Callebaut reports sustainable sourcing achievement

Barry Callebaut has released its Forever Chocolate Progress Report 2018/2019, which notes that of all the agricultural raw materials the company sourced in 2018/2019, 51% were sustainably sourced.

Givaudan doubles flavor production capacity in China; signs emissions reduction pledge

Givaudan, a flavor and fragrances company, has inaugurated a new extension to its Nantong, China manufacturing facility aimed to support the capacity on liquid flavor production for beverages, dairy, and sweet goods.

EU authorizes seven GM products for food, feed uses

The European Commission has authorized seven genetically modified organisms (GMOs), all for food/feed uses. 

Coca-Cola Sweden to switch all bottles to 100% recycled plastic in 2020

Coca-Cola Sweden has announced that it will make all its plastic bottles from 100% recycled material, becoming the first country worldwide to do so.

One-third of California produce may never make it off the farm

A study published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling suggests that approximately one-third of edible California produce is left in the fields to rot.