Monday, 24 January 2011

Wine Family Tree

A family tree of wines has just been published. It is based on the largest study to date of the genetics of grape vines. Sean Myles, and colleagues at Stanford University, looked at genetic markers in 583 cultivars to reveal the pattern behind 6,000 years of breeding. There appears to be a “vast swathe of possible varieties unexplored”. This is good news for breeders seeking to develop disease-resistant cultivars, and also in the light of a recent report that suggested new cultivars were needed as climate change affects traditional wine growing areas. The study revealed that wine grapes were less diverse than previously thought, with most of the main cultivars being close cousins of one another, because the same cultivars have been reused by breeders over and over again.
Sean Miles et al., 2011. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1009363108

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