Grape Genetic Resources

Great Wine grapes, table grapes and raisins are almost exclusively produced by the European wine grape Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera. In the narrow sense the genetic resources of the cultivated grape consist of old traditional cultivars developed throughout the centuries, new cultivars and breeding lines developed after spreading of pests and diseases like phylloxera, powdery and downy mildew around the world during the 19th century, and wild species of Europe and Asia Minor (Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris), America (ca. 25 Vitis species), and Asia (ca. 40 Vitis species). Most countries with ongoing viticulture tradition maintain grape germplasm collections.

 Worldwide about 130 such repositories exist, the largest preserving more than 7000 accessions. These collections are maintained as long-term field plantings offering the possibility of evaluating the material and to easily distribute genotypes by woody cuttings from dormant plants. However, quarantine restrictions may be imposed on the importation of cuttings from certain countries and regions because of the risk of spreading pathogens and pests. Due to problems with visual identification of varieties by morphological traits and the same variety having many different names across regions and countries DNA profiling with microsatellite markers has become popular as a means of identifying incorrectly named genotypes (misnomers) as well as synonyms and homonyms. 


The ascertainment of trueness to type is essential with respect to the exchange of true to type genotypes between grape germplasm collections, researchers, and breeders. In that context the partners of the GrapeGen06 project endeavored to assemble microsatellite marker data of a large number of accessions/varieties. The Vitis International Variety Catalogue as well other data bases provide such marker data as a valuable tool for management of grapevine collections and research. Below some examples are given for databases concerning grape germplasm collections.

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