Most grape scion cultivars grown around the world are derived from a single species, Vitis vinifera. Yet, the proportion of interspecific hybrids is increasing for a variety of reasons, including resistance to abiotic stresses such as low temperatures; societal, economic and environmental pressures to reduce pesticide usage; and to add a greater range of flavors to new table grape cultivars.
Session 4: New disease tolerant varieties
How to deal with the Green Deal – Resistant grapevine varieties to reduce the use of pesticides in the EU
With its Farm-to-Fork Strategy, which is a part of the European Green Deal, the European Union aims at reducing the amount of pesticides used in agriculture by 50% until 2030. As viticulture uses around 70% of the fungicides in the EU, there is substantial pressure on winemakers to reduce their pesticide input. On top of the political goal, winegrowers face increased pressure from the public demanding a more sustainable production of wine.
Climate change will require the adaptation of agricultural systems and among the different means of adaptation, changing plant material is a promising strategy. In viticulture, different levels of diversity are currently exploited: clonal and varietal diversity for rootstocks and scions. A huge quantity of research aims to evaluate different genotypes in different environmental conditions to identify which ones are the best adapted and the most tolerant to future environmental conditions.
The real sour grapes: genetic Loci, genes, and metabolic changes associated with grape malate levels
Insufficient levels of malate and lack of acidity in commercial grape cultivars (V.vinifera) hinders the quality of fruit grown in warm climates. Conversely, excessive levels of malate and sourness in wild Vitis grape, leads to unpalatable fruit and complicates the introgression of valuable disease resistant alleles through breeding. Nonetheless, albeit decades of research, knowledge regarding the molecular regulation of malate levels in grape remains limited.
Since some years, the French wine sector faces strategical challenges, all linked to climate change. Multiple issues have been observed like diseases development, early frost, drought, change in the precocity and maturity of grapes, each one resulting in loss of productivity and yield. In France, the varieties proposed today by nurseries are historical varieties that are not well adapted to those changes. Therefore, Mercier Frères, one of the leading grapevine nursery, has decided to start its own research programs, with the help of its laboratory Novatech, to answer the growing demand for new grapevine varieties.
The French grapevine breeding program for durable resistance to downy and powdery mildew (INRAE-ResDur) was initiated more than 20 years ago to help reduce the heavy use of plant protection products and provide a durable mean to cope with a strong pathogen pressure. This program has now proved to be effective, with about ten new varieties already officially registered. However, there is still a lot to be done (1) to reduce the duration of each breeding cycle, (2) to diversify disease factors’ pyramiding and anticipate emerging diseases, (3) to work towards larger adoption of the new resistant varieties. New breeding schemes incorporating for example genomic prediction of breeding values are being evaluated to accelerate genetic gains, saving cost and time while handling complex traits.
In many regions, climate change leads to an increase in air temperature combined with a reduction of rainfall, intensifying climatic demand and water deficits (WD) (Cardell et al. 2019), which in turn may negatively impact grapevine development, yield and grape composition (Santos et al. 2020). In addition, climate change may also increase disease pressure, leading to further yield and quality losses, besides increasing costs due to increased vineyard spraying (Santos et al. 2020) and reducing viticulture acceptability by consumers (Guichard et al. 2017). Adopting new resistant varieties appears as a promising long-term solution to better manage vine protection, but unfortunately little is known regarding their behavior in front of WD.