Genetic improvement of grapevine: WHY ?. Melané A Vivier Institute for Wine Biotechnology Stellenbosch University. Why am I here trying to answer this question?.
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Melané A Vivier
Institute for Wine Biotechnology
Because we, together with a large international community, supported by numerous industries and other funding agencies, are trying to ask and answer scientific questions regarding the most important fruit crop of the world, namely Vitis vinifera (grapevine)
We focus on understanding the genetic potential of the species, using molecular and cellular biology tools
We have developed (bio)technologies that can lead to genetically improved grapevines, aligned with industry needs
We have applied for an experimental field trial with transgenic grapes, which sparked much debate
SA Scientists seek go-ahead for field trials of GM grapes (Cape Times)
GM wingerdplante ontlok reaksie (Landbou Burger)
GM Grapes earn wrath of growers (Sunday Times)
Protests at Stellenbosch transgenic grapevine experiment (Grape news)
GM grape trials could affect SA wine sales (Farmer’s Weekly, letter)
Frankenfoods’ from a madman’s lab. Gene grapes no barrel of fun (Son)
Genetically modified wine on the cards (Cape Times)
No to GMO in the wine industry (WOSA)
Wingerdinstituut se GM proef sal ‘n eerste wees (Die Burger)
So, are we interested in “contaminating” the environment, creating “weedy” grapevines or causing harm to wine-drinking customers, or the wine-industry in general?
Aims of the programme
A grape gene (Vvpgip), present in multiple copies protects against fungal pathogens
A grape gene (VvNCED), protects against water stress
Photographs obtained from the work of Dr. Khrishnan Vasanth, IWBT
The process and evaluations
EVALUATION OF TRANSGENICS
Not factual reporting in all cases!
Wine-industry specific aspects:
The first Vitis species arrived with the settlers!
Grapevines have no close relatives in South Africa, meaning that there is no plant species with which it could interbreedUnderstanding the specifics about Vitis will clarify many misconceptions
Grapevine is not planted from seed; it is vegetatively propagated
In SA certified plant material is strictly controlled in the supply chainMisconceptions………Pollen flow and seed dispersal
The challenge is perhaps to strike a balance between strict control and monitoring of GMO materials and their release, while not hampering the progress of science