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Missouri grapes hold key to improving world grape production
Date:12/6/2010

In a few years, a sip of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir may include a taste of the "Show-Me" State. The state grape of Missouri the Norton variety grown at many vineyards around the state is resistant to powdery mildew, a fungal pathogen that affects winemaking grapes around the world. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are working to identify valuable genes from the Norton grape for eventual transfer into other grapes to make them less susceptible to mildew, decrease fungicide use and increase world-wide grape production.

Walter Gassmann, a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center and associate professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

"The hot, humid environment of Missouri is perfect for the growth of fungal pathogens, such as mildew, yet Norton resists the fungus," said Walter Gassmann, a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center and associate professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "Understanding what makes Norton resistant to fungus, and European varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, susceptible to fungus, can help us improve grape production around the world."

Researchers say the difference between the Norton grape and other varieties is that the Norton grape builds more of a certain protein that is essential to fight fungal pathogens than other grape varieties, which build too little of the protein too late to successfully battle the fungus. Earlier research has discovered the gene that contains the blueprint for this protein present in both Norton grapes and other varieties that cannot resist the mildew. Gassmann is conducting research on the fast-growing Arabidopsis plant, which features a gene similar to the targeted grape gene. His team added the grapevine gene to an Arabidopsis plant that was lacking its own gene. Adding the grapevine gene led to plants that resisted the mildew, confirming that the
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Contact: Steven Adams
AdamsST@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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