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You are here: Home / Projects / Genomics of Berry Quality in Grapevine (GrapeGen)

A Genomic Approach to the Identification of the Genetic and Environmental Components Underlying Berry Quality in Grapevine (GrapeGen)

Understanding the interaction between the genome and environment in determining berry quality traits in both table and wine grapes.

Project Leaders Jose Martinez-Zapter
Project Co-Investigators Marco Marra , Steven Jones , Steve Lund, Joerg Bohlmann , Patricia Bowen, Robert Olafson
Involved Organizations
Centro Nacional de Biotenologia
Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre
University of British Columbia
Pacific Agri-food Research Centre
Funding Agencies
Genome Spain
Genome Canada


The world has approximately 7.4 million hectares of vineyards. Table grape and wine sales contribute significantly to the economies of major wine producing countries. The table grape and wine industries touch issues of land, food and community through production, marketing, agri-tourism and general contribution to economic diversity and well-being.

Spain has more than 1.2 million hectares or approximately 1/7 of the total world grown surface mainly dedicate to wine production. Furthermore, with more than 50,000 hectares of table grape, Spain is the second European producer after Italy, with most of this production being dedicated to the foreign market. New varieties are being grown in Spain and need to adapt to the Spanish environmental and growing conditions resulting in their production sometimes not being economically profitable.

Canada’s economic interest in grape production lies in its crafting of high quality wines. Canada is the youngest wine-producing region in the world; however, the wine industry in Canada has developed rapidly over the past 10 years, primarily in Ontario and British Columbia (BC). In addition to producing the finest icewines in the world, Canada is gaining acclaim as a low volume producer of high quality, award winning wines. Quality of these varieties need to be maintained.

Quality and safety are two major keywords in wine production and represent the general trend in this area. The current challenges to grape production in Spain and Canada could be solved with a better understanding of the biological processes underlying quality traits of the berries. Given the recent advances in genomic technologies and the completion of the sequence of two plant genomes, a genomic approach seems to be the most reliable strategy to rapidly gain biological information that can be applied to the development of new cultivars and the improvement of production techniques. The significance of a genomic approach to speed the biological understanding of grapevine has been recognized by scientists working in different producing countries worldwide.

The overall goal of the project is to understand the interaction of the genome and environment in determining berry quality traits in both table and wine grapes, in particular the two major cultivars, Muscat Hamburg and Cabernet Sauvignon. The achievement of our major goal is based on three specific objectives:

1. Establish genomic resources for gene and protein discovery associated with berry quality traits in V. vinifera

2. Establish resources for functional analyses related to berry quality traits in V. vinifera

3. Elucidate cell signaling and metabolic pathways underlying berry development and quality traits and predict how these pathways are modified by microclimate and common viticultural practices as well as by genetic differences among grapevine cultivars.

Contact Information

For all project related inquires please contact us.

Robyn Roscoe, Project Team Leader
Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
Phone: 604-707-5963 x 5436
Fax: 604-876-3561