Discovering the genetic secrets of good wine is at the heart of a project launched by Spanish and Canadian scientists, who are conducting the first large-scale, integrated genomics effort focused on single-model cultivars for wine and table grapes.

The genetic determinants of grape quality are practically unknown, and how local environmental factors interact at the cellular and molecular levels to cause differences in fruit quality is not understood.

“Understanding grapevine genomics is now a prerequisite to further improvement of viticultural practices as well as for the development of new varieties through breeding programs and adapting the best clones to the most suitable vineyard environments,” José Miguel Martínez-Zapater, the Spanish coordinator of the project at Madrid's National Center of Biotechnology, told The Scientist.

The grape genomics project, funded by Genome Spain and Genome Canada, is meant to elucidate developmental and metabolic pathways underlying grape development and quality traits and...

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