BLACKSBURG, Sep. 19, 2002 - The NSF has awarded a $3,609,951 grant to University of Nevada-Reno and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute to develop genomic resources and study stress tolerance in Vitis vinifera, the grapes commonly used as table fruit and for making wine. Virginia Bioinformatics Institute’s Dr. Pedro Mendes, a co-PI of the project, will aid the project by developing an informatics system to store, manage and organize the genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic data generated by the project. 

Grapes are of high value in the US agricultural sector. The US produces 10% of the world’s grape output, ranking third after Italy and France. In terms of wine, the US is the fourth largest wine producer in the world and third in wine consumption. Grape production is hampered by abiotic and biotic stresses. Paradoxically, several studies have shown that water-stressed vines produce superior-quality wine. The molecular and biochemical basis for these characteristics is poorly understood. This project will enhance production efficiency by understanding wine grape genes and how drought stress impacts on these genes eventually leading to higher wine quality. This will require research on gene expression at the level of transcripts and proteins, and careful profiling of metabolite changes contributing to wine quality. The project will focus on improving strategies for enhancing stress tolerance in V. vinifera. This project will greatly facilitate future gene discovery efforts in grapevines and lead to improvements in both production efficiency and wine quality under adverse growing conditions.

# #

Published by Public Relations, September 18, 2002