Photo: Ian Britton (flickr)
New grapes will be needed if wine lovers want to keep drinking. Because of disease, farmers had been spraying the grapes to protect them. However, new regulations are limiting how often farmers can spray their grapes.
Sampling The Genome
Researchers have made a genome map of over 1,000 vine samples. They want to use this map to learn how to create disease-resistant grapes.
Where Did The Grapes Come From?
Some of our favorite wines such as chardonnay and merlot were created using the Vitis vinifera vinifera grape variety. The grape was first domesticated in modern day Turkey.
However, its popularity spread to the US, Australia, and South America. As the grapes became more and more popular and spread all over the globe, so did disease.
The grapes cannot protect themselves against disease so it is up to farmers to do the job. Most farmers have been using chemicals to spray the grapes. These chemicals are expensive and damaging for the environment.
Solution To The Grape Problem
Scientists are beginning to explore the idea of disease-resistant grapes. They have been experimenting with cross-breeding using resistant species. Scientists are also manipulating genes hoping to create stronger plants.
The bad news is that the process is expensive and time-consuming. Not only must scientists test all options, they must wait for the plants to grow (usually around 3-4 years until they bare fruit).
The good news is that experiment will lead to new and better varieties of wine.
- New grapes needed to keep wine flowing (BBC News)