Gene sequencing tech to make ‘climate tolerant’ cabernet sauvignon

From the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – DAVIS and the “GMO wine department” comes this news:

Genomics breakthrough paves way for climate-tolerant wine grape varieties

A new sequencing technology, combined with a new computer algorithm that can yield detailed information about complex genomes of various organisms, has been used to produce a high-quality draft genome sequence of cabernet sauvignon, the world’s most popular red wine grape variety, reports a UC Davis genomics expert.

Success of the new genome assembly, which allows researchers to assemble large segments of an organism’s DNA, also was demonstrated on the common research plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the coral mushroom (Clavicorona pyxidata). The findings will be reported Oct. 17 in the journal Nature Methods.

The three-pronged, proof-of-concept study used an open-source genome assembly process called FALCON-unzip, developed by Pacific Biosciences of Menlo Park, California. The study was led by Chen-Shan Chin, the firm’s leading bioinformatician. Lead researcher on the cabernet sauvignon sequencing effort was Dario Cantu, a plant geneticist specializing in plant and microbial genomics in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.

“For grapevine genomics, this new technology solves a problem that has limited the development of genomic resources for wine grape varieties,” Cantu said. “It’s like finally being able to uncork a wine bottle that we have wanted to drink for a long time.

“The new process provides rapid access to genetic information that cabernet sauvignon has inherited from both its parents, enabling us to identify genetic markers to use in breeding new vines with improved traits,” he said.

The first genome sequence for the common grapevine, Vitis vinifera, was completed in 2007. Because it was based on a grapevine variety that was generated to simplify the genome assembly procedure, rather than a cultivated variety, that sequence lacks many of the genomic details that economically important wine grape varieties possess, Cantu said.

He noted that the new sequencing technology will enable his research group to conduct comparative studies between cabernet sauvignon and other historically and economically important wine grape varieties.

“This will help us understand what makes cabernet sauvignon cabernet sauvignon,” he said.

Outmaneuvering climate change:

“The new genomic information that will be generated with this new genomics approach will accelerate the development of new disease-resistant wine grape varieties that produce high-quality, flavorful grapes and are better suited to environmental changes,” Cantu said.

Warmer temperatures attributed to climate change are already being recorded in many prime grape-growing regions of the world. And in California, where the value of grape crops varies widely and is heavily influenced by local climate, it is especially important that new varieties be able thrive despite warming temperatures.

“In a worsening climate, drought and heat stress will be particularly relevant for high-quality viticultural areas such as Napa and Sonoma,” Cantu said.

Shedding light on a viticultural mystery:

The new sequencing effort may also answer some of the questions that have surrounded the ancestry of cabernet sauvignon for centuries, Cantu said.

“Having access to this genomic information is historically fascinating,” Cantu said, noting that the cabernet sauvignon grape variety is thought to date no later than the 17th century. He noted that in 1997 UC Davis plant geneticist Carole Meredith used DNA fingerprinting techniques to identify cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc as the two varieties that had crossed to produce cabernet sauvignon.

“Today, you can find cabernet sauvignon growing on every continent except Antarctica,” Cantu said. “And because grape vines have been propagated by plant cuttings rather than grown from seed, all of the cabernet sauvignon vines are genetically identical, with the exception of some spontaneous, clonal mutations.”

“Using this new genome sequencing process, we can now develop the genetic markers necessary to combine important traits into new varieties,” Cantu said. “It’s been 400 years since that was last done for cabernet sauvignon; we can do better than that.”

###

Funding and collaborators:

Funding for the cabernet sauvignon genome sequencing was provided by J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines.

Collaborating with Cantu on the sauvignon cabernet study were Rosa Figueroa-Balderas and Abraham Morales-Cruz, both of UC Davis; Grant R. Cramer of the University of Nevada, Reno; and Massimo Delledonne of the University of Verona, Italy.

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53 thoughts on “Gene sequencing tech to make ‘climate tolerant’ cabernet sauvignon

  1. Outmaneuvering imports with tariffs and lack of a SAFTA agreement is the main underlying goal, not climate change.

  2. It would be interesting to make a variety of wine grape that produces good wine in hot areas. I live in Texas, and it is a trifle warm for truly good wine–rather good, but not really good.

    • Texas (Napa like in marketing) in the Hill Country around Fredericksburg has wine grape production. The development has been ongoing. Grape-wine in the variety of some French wines – same soil type. My knowledge of this is as a tourist visitor. I did not find the dark grape Cabernet. Texas is the 4th largest producer of wine in the United States

      • My understanding is that “terroir”, or local climate and soil, affect grape quality. The use of genetic engineering should allow a better fit of grape to more climate types, rather than seeking climate to fit the grape type.

    • well curiously enough if theyre all related…Aussie cab savs cope with extreme heat and our wines win awards..maybe they should just import some cuttings?
      what a bloody waste of time effort n money
      glad I dont like wine
      seems another GMO screwup i wont have to bother reading labels or just plain avoiding,
      like soy or corn produced in usa products or any canola or cottonseed oil products in aus

      • Well growing Pinot Noir only became difficult after they featured it in a crappie movie.

        Prior to that you could get some very good Pinot Noir for reasonable prices.

        Does Gallo make Cabernet Sauvignon? they seem to be good at making bulk wines for the masses.

        g

      • george,
        I pop over to Calais for my wine. ‘La Villageoise’ – about 3 Euros a bottle – of 1,5 litres; a perfectly acceptable Vin de Pays. Leave at 5 a.m. and home by about 2 pm [0500-1400].
        Even with the post-Brexit incredible shrinking pound, that is good value for money!

        Auto

      • George, try a German Pinot Noir, you’d be surprised. But you might have to learn to spell Spätburgunder first, I wouldn’t trust the wineries that use the french name for the grape!

  3. Climate Change certainly has become the established religion’s required incantation for any study – even if the target climates vary an order of magnitude more than any averaged variation over any of our lifetimes .

    • Yes, even in their own press release, this is more a target for diseases and bad crop years than climate change. It seems that they added climate for the sole purpose of getting more funding or publication.

      • Yes. A few years back, I attended a scholarly talk – that claimed something about climate change and wine quality. The speaker ended up talking about three parameters that affect subjective wine quality – sugar, alcohol, and something else. So, they could examine the influence of weather upon these general subjective-quality measures.

        Instead of being about climate change, the data showed that “microclimate” – amount of rain, etc., in the growing season for one specific area predicted the quality of the wine – the vinyard where he gathered weather data had multiple micro-climates; each hillside was notably different. But Climate Change sells, so Climate Change was in the paper.

        I was thoroughly upset until they rolled out the free samples.

  4. I’m not a believer, but If the INDUSTRY wants to fund this, have at it. Napa Valley cab fetches $6000/ton and up. It is completely rational to want to limit your risks and protect your return. Purists won’t dig it. Bordeaux can move to Normandy.

  5. Climate is dynamic and follows a natural variability. The present climate is part of this. Grapes are grown under this variable climate in the past and will be grown in future. GM companies used climate change as to enter in to all forms of agriculture. We must condemn such moves. In California in the past one month shows the weather variability.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  6. While they are at it, how about developing strains that can be grown in COOLER areas, i.e, Galatin Mountain Merlot? :-)

  7. So the next thing should be adding the DNA of Cab.Sauv. to that of Aberdeen Angus, or even better, Galloway, cattle and then we can have our steak and wine at the same time.
    Won’t be as much fun, though.

  8. They’ve been working on drought-resistant and heat-resistant grapes (both wine and table) at Davis for decades. Maybe calling the efforts a fight against climate change is a way to get more funds.

  9. What is apparent is the major disconnect between all the climate doom and gloom and actual wine vintages.
    I suggest you read Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate to see what he thinks of the Napa Valley California Cabernet Sauvignons for 2010 – 2013.
    Or go down to the liquor store or supermarket and buy a bottle and find out for yourself how much deterioration in quality that extra hundredth of a degree has resulted in.

  10. Quote: Warmer temperatures attributed to climate change are already being recorded in many prime grape-growing regions of the world.

    How interesting. Perhaps somebody can now identify an actual place on earth where the climate has changed. From there it should be simple to say what the climate was 30 years ago at that place and what it is now.

    Or not.

  11. They ought to be able to go either way with temperature adaptability so maybe we’ll see grape wines from Fargo ND competing with Napa Valley someday? More competition = lower prices!

  12. so, they got a new DNA sequencer and put some wine DNA throught it.
    And, presto, with some climate spice added out comes a new publication.

    If you don’t know how to do science, just buy either a new,very big computer and calculate climate models, or get a new sequencer and put anything through it, which you can garnish with climate.
    Not impressive.

  13. Couldn’t find anything closer to Napa but checking NOAA’s “Climate at a Glance” for Sacramento I don’t see any reason for concern in the first place?

    Maximum temperature for July & August – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us/4/USW00023232/tmax/2/8/1895-2016?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000

    Average temperature for July & August – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us/4/USW00023232/tavg/2/8/1895-2016?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000

    • Good work, Mike.

      I need to save that webpage and learn how to work it. Evey time they were throwing one of these local stories out there, I was using wolframalpha and entering “average temperature past 60 years” and the locale.

      It is very difficult to find a town with increasing temps. And I have never seen a hockey stick.

  14. Hmmm…. California-

    California wine-grape growers celebrate bumper crop – NY Daily News
    http://www.nydailynews.com/…/california-wine-grape-growers-celebrate-bumper...
    18 Feb 2014 – California agriculture officials reported good news for wine lovers and vineyard operators alike: a record harvest of wine grapes. Growers in the …

    Take Two | California sees large bumper grape crop in 2012 | 89.3 …
    http://www.scpr.org/…/california-sees-large-bumper-grape-crop-in-2012/

    19 Feb 2013 – California sees large bumper grape crop in 2012 … More than 4 million tons of wine grapes were grown, and they … September 21 2016 …
    Bumper Californian crop puts pressure on high-end – Decanter
    http://www.decanter.com/…/bumper-californian-crop-puts-pressure-on-high-end-...

    23 Feb 2010 – California’s bumper 2009 harvest is putting pressure on the premium end of the market, according to preliminary figures. … The market for higher-end grapes and wine remained ‘one of caution … Decanter magazine May 2016.
    Bumper California harvests won’t mean oversupply, says Constellation …
    http://www.decanter.com/…/bumper-california-harvests-won-t-mean-oversuppl...

    9 Jan 2014 – Bumper California harvests won’t mean oversupply, says Constellation … Glenn Proctor, California-based partner at global wine and grape broker … by Decanter for its California supplement in the September 2016 issue.
    Ample supplies, good quality summer fruit due from California | The …
    http://www.thepacker.com/…/ample-supplies-good-quality-summer-fruit-due-c...

    18 Apr 2016 – By Tom Burfield April 18, 2016 | 1:16 pm EDT … A bumper crop of table grapes could roll out of California’s Coachella Valley, said Bob Bianco, …
    Record California Wine Grape Harvest – Wines & Vines
    http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?…Record%20California%20Win...
    California followed up the bumper harvest of 2012 with an even larger one in 2013. … The average price of all wine grapes was $745 per ton, with the average for red wine grapes up 4% to $842 and the average for …. August 2016, $2,813 mil.
    Winetitles Media | Daily Wine News
    winetitles.com.au/dwn/search.asp?SearchDWN=harvest&submit_search…

    4/03/2016: Grape harvest kicks off with wine industry predicting bumper crop »» …

    19/02/2016: $8 wine might be a tough sell this year: California forecast »» …

    2016 looks fruitful for California wineries after a hard year – San …
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/…/Harvest-arrives-for-California-wine-grape-grow...

    22 Aug 2016 – California’s 2016 wine grape harvest is under way, and after a freakishly early and low-yielding 2015 vintage, things seem to be back to normal …
    Nova Scotia winemakers ready to toast 2016 growing season – CBC
    http://www.cbc.ca/…/winemaking-vineyard-grapes-agriculture-wine-petite-riviere...

    15 Sep 2016 – Nova Scotia winemakers ready to toast 2016 growing season … A Luckett Vineyard winemaker inspects the grape bumper crop. (Jean Laroche/CBC). Across the province on the …. All rights reserved. Visitez Radio-Canada.ca.

  15. The green elite will need great wines to celebrate the institutionalized global carbon tax and the bountiful budgets that flow from it.

    “Row well and live 41”

    • what about that Ice wine?
      huge profits and the freeze is the selling point:-)
      like the yummy botrytis dessert wines..what some see as a fault, others find good

  16. Not sure why all the sarcasm in this thread.

    This is excellent evidence that adaptation is possible, and at a fraction of the cost of mitigation. Sure, the funding appears to have been secured in part by the climate change meme, but that’s great! The investment in adaptation options costs a fraction of windmill and solar panel lunacy, doesn’t raise stability and cost issues in the current supply change, and if climate change doesn’t happen it is still of value because it creates crop options that don’t exist at the moment for other geographies, AND the resulting research will be of value in applying similar techniques to other crop types.

    What’s not to like?

    • We’ve just become cynical. It’s a great thing that will help farmers with the normal annual swings in production. However, it’s frustrating how they are linking something to the issue of the day that is clearly not driven by fears of climate change and that would be of great benefit without any CO2 changes.

      Yes, I’m glad for them. Yes it’s good long term for everyone. My daughter’s grape juice habit will benefit, as will my wife’s habit of more expensive grape juices.

      However, please allow me to be a grump when I see that people put needless political buzzwords on good, beneficial research just to get published.

    • I suspect it’s the hubris in thinking they are addressing “climate change” issues. It’s farming. Perhaps high-tech farming but farming nonetheless.

  17. Is there a gene for making grape skins of metal. In france one of our biggest problems is hail early, mid and late season.

    • Many beers cause bloat. Wine is wonderfully innocent of causing gastric balloons.

      Plus, one can buy a case of wine and put them on their sides in a basement to age. Even lower quality wines dramatically improve in flavor rather quickly.
      It kind of makes one want to put up a cask or barrel of bourbon or rye too; just to finish out the weeks ahead.

      Good luck trying that with beer.

      Now Stout, Porter or Draak Triple might age well.

  18. “A new sequencing technology, combined with a new computer algorithm that can yield detailed information about complex genomes of various organisms, has been used to produce a high-quality draft genome sequence of cabernet sauvignon, the world’s most popular red wine grape variety, reports a UC Davis genomics expert.”

    Riiigghhtt…

    Let’s see if I understand this insanity.

    Student researchers at UCal-Davis, who don’t have a clue what most of a Cabernet genes actually do; are going to use a new model to custom design a revised Cabernet that will thrive better in upcoming climate change.
    Climate change which the UCal researchers do not really understand either; except if they use the magic ‘climate change’ words, they’ll get a lot of grant money.

    Perhaps it is better that these researchers are working on their imaginary cabernet problem! If these folks were working in the medical field, they could kill a lot of people and still never wise up.

    As others have pointed out, the local terroir, i.e. soil, drainage, sun exposure, rainfall and rain patterns, even the local beasts used to keep the weeds down; make for unique wine flavors and qualities. Especially when managed by knowledgeable vintners.

    Grapevines can reach deep with their roots, allowing them to fill basic water needs in all but the worst drought conditions. During a drought, the grapes will be smaller but more flavorful.
    Too much rain is a problem. Especially rain that falls late in the grape ripening season.

    Which leaves one wondering just how ignorant UCal yahoos plan to design a grape to meet real world problems?

  19. The one and really only info here is about

    The three-pronged, proof-of-concept study used an open-source genome assembly process called FALCON-unzip, developed by Pacific Biosciences of Menlo Park, California.
    _______________________________

    There’s gifted housewives needed and wardens in night shift to do the FALCON-unzip.

    Anybody with extra time may google for the fascinating rubic cube.

  20. Winemaker in Norway at 59,24N lat.:
    http://lerkekasa.no/
    (I have some vines in my own garden a few miles south. We had days with below -20C here last winter, but grapes reappear mysteriously in the summer).
    Seems like Vitis Vinifera is already quite good at adapting to differences in climate.

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