NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The newly published genome sequence of the pinot noir grape could reduce the cost of producing some popular wines, according to the research team that conducted the study.
The study, led by Riccardo Velasco and colleagues at Italy’s Agrario di San Michele all'Adige, was published in the open-access journal PLoS One this week. The research team used a combination of Sanger sequencing and 454 Life Sciences’ Genome Sequencer 20 to sequence the pinot noir plant’s 500 million base pairs.
The researchers used Sanger sequencing to generate 6.5X coverage and 454 sequencing to produce 4.2X coverage of the Vitis vinifera pinot noir clone ENTAV 115, a variety grown in a range of soils for red and sparkling wines.
Grape vines can be problematic to cultivate and are susceptible to a number of diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
The researchers expect that the pinot noir genome will provide insight into creating disease-resistant grape varieties without altering the quality of the resulting wine.
As part of the sequencing study Velasco and colleagues identified a number of genes that are related to disease-resistance, of which 289 contain one or more SNPs.
The study found that the grape plant has a relatively small genome for a crop plant, with more than two million SNPs and 28,585 genes.
“Pinot Noir has a highly complex heterozygous genome, which presents significant challenges to any sequence and assembly effort,” said 454’s VP of R&D, Michael Egholm, in a statement.
Although this complexity made the sequencing difficult, the researchers said it provided a “massive library of inherent variation” for studying how genes influence plant growth.
The genome also could provide information about pinot noir evolution, which has been complicated by its history of cultivation.
The researchers found that ten out of the plant’s 19 chromosomes resulted from a duplication that occurred shortly after the plant’s lineage diverged from that of the model plants Arabidopsis and poplar.
This genome sequencing “presents an opportunity to direct genetic improvement or disease resistance,” said Brian Dilkes of the University of California Davis’ Genome Center. It also could allow breeding for disease resistance without compromising grape flavor or quality, Dilkes added.
"The sequence of the grape genome, together with the large arsenal of SNP loci, now offers a tool to open a new era in the molecular breeding of grapes,” Velasco said.