Conservation of intravarietal diversity in France: exhaustive overview and perspectives

Since the renewal of the French vineyard after the Phylloxera crisis, the panorama of cultivated varieties has dramatically changed. This current genetic erosion is due to the increasing interest in some cultivars that are widely spread out. Meanwhile, clonal selection has contributed to the development of these grape varieties driving towards a massive loss of genetic resources by the use of ± 400 clones only. Thus, since the middle 90’s, many local repositories have been established by the IFV and French selection partners.
These repositories are established in complementarity with INRA Domaine de Vassal for the maintenance of Vitis vinifera (and other species of Vitis) and the IFV for selected clones. Today, the total of local repositories has reached 151 holding 113 registered varieties and over than 15 000 clones. Passport data of this material is recorded in a national online data-base.
Some clonal research programs have been achieved using material held in repositories. For example, it is the case with Syrah for new material resistant to Syrah decline, Cabernet franc and Tannat for new clones with lower fertility, etc….

This presentation will also give a large overview on the French policy of conservation (history, recent developments, and tools for the management), the organization of the different levels of repositories, and some data including endangered and neglected cultivars that require short term actions to be engaged. Today, there are still 77 varieties without any repository. Some were widely used in the middle of the XXth century but have drastically decreased. Indeed, time has come now to engage a large inventory of old vineyards. Since the last decade, about 50 000 ha of old vineyards have been definitively discarded. That means that opportunities to find diversity are being reduced year after year.
Due to this coordination and partnership, some programs have recently been started : Jurançon noir, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Sacy, etc…
But it seems clear that means are required to prospect additional ressources, plant and manage repositories. Unfortunately, the wine industry does not necessarily consider these programs as a priority even if, in the long term perspective, there are good reasons to have everyone concerned and involved: climate changes, global competition, standardization, etc….

Authors: Olivier YOBRÉGAT (1), Christophe SÉRÉNO (2), Laurent AUDEGUIN (2), Thierry LACOMBE (3), Bertrand CHATELET (4), Jean-Michel BOURSIQUOT (5)

(1) IFV, V’Innopôle Sud-Ouest, BP 22, 81310 Lisle sur Tarn, France
(2) Géno-Vigne®, Domaine de l’Espiguette, 30240 Le Grau du Roi, France
(3) Géno-Vigne®, INRA, UMR AGAP, Equipe DAVEM, 2 place Viala, 34060 Montpellier, France
(4) SICAREX Beaujolais, 210 Boulevard Vermorel, 69400 Villefranche sur Saône, France
(5) Géno-Vigne®, IFV, Montpellier SupAgro, 2 place Viala, 34060 Montpellier, France


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