Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Viticulture


Wine grapes present a unique biogeography model, wherein microbial biodiversity patterns across viticultural zones not only answer questions of dispersal and community maintenance, they are also an inherent component of the quality, consumer acceptance, and economic appreciation of a culturally important food product. On their journey from the vineyard to the wine bottle, grapes are transformed to wine through microbial activity, with indisputable consequences for wine quality parameters. Wine grapes harbor a wide range of microbes originating from the surrounding environment, many of which are recognized for their role in grapevine health and wine quality. However, determinants of regional wine characteristics have not been identified, but are frequently assumed to stem from viticultural or geological factors alone. This study used a high-throughput, short-amplicon sequencing approach to demonstrate that regional, site-specific, and grape-variety factors shape the fungal and bacterial consortia inhabiting wine-grape surfaces. Furthermore, these microbial assemblages are correlated to specific climatic features, suggesting a link between vineyard environmental conditions and microbial inhabitation patterns. Taken together, these factors shape the unique microbial inputs to regional wine fermentations, posing the existence of nonrandom “microbial terroir” as a determining factor in regional variation among wine grapes.

Concepts: Bacteria, Biotechnology, Vitis vinifera, Wine, Grape, Vitis, Viticulture, Terroir


Climate change is expected to impact ecosystems directly, such as through shifting climatic controls on species ranges, and indirectly, for example through changes in human land use that may result in habitat loss. Shifting patterns of agricultural production in response to climate change have received little attention as a potential impact pathway for ecosystems. Wine grape production provides a good test case for measuring indirect impacts mediated by changes in agriculture, because viticulture is sensitive to climate and is concentrated in Mediterranean climate regions that are global biodiversity hotspots. Here we demonstrate that, on a global scale, the impacts of climate change on viticultural suitability are substantial, leading to possible conservation conflicts in land use and freshwater ecosystems. Area suitable for viticulture decreases 25% to 73% in major wine producing regions by 2050 in the higher RCP 8.5 concentration pathway and 19% to 62% in the lower RCP 4.5. Climate change may cause establishment of vineyards at higher elevations that will increase impacts on upland ecosystems and may lead to conversion of natural vegetation as production shifts to higher latitudes in areas such as western North America. Attempts to maintain wine grape productivity and quality in the face of warming may be associated with increased water use for irrigation and to cool grapes through misting or sprinkling, creating potential for freshwater conservation impacts. Agricultural adaptation and conservation efforts are needed that anticipate these multiple possible indirect effects.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Climate, Vitis vinifera, Wine, Mediterranean climate, Grape, Viticulture


Vitis vinifera scions are commonly grafted onto rootstocks of other grape species to influence scion vigour and provide resistance to soil-borne pests and abiotic stress; however, the mechanisms by which rootstocks affect scion physiology remain unknown. This study characterized the hydraulic physiology of Vitis rootstocks that vary in vigour classification by investigating aquaporin (VvPIP) gene expression, fine-root hydraulic conductivity (Lp®), % aquaporin contribution to Lp®, scion transpiration, and the size of root systems. Expression of several VvPIP genes was consistently greater in higher-vigour rootstocks under favourable growing conditions in a variety of media and in root tips compared to mature fine roots. Similar to VvPIP expression patterns, fine-root Lp® and % aquaporin contribution to Lp® determined under both osmotic (Lp®(Osm)) and hydrostatic (Lp®(Hyd)) pressure gradients were consistently greater in high-vigour rootstocks. Interestingly, the % aquaporin contribution was nearly identical for Lp®(Osm) and Lp®(Hyd) even though a hydrostatic gradient would induce a predominant flow across the apoplastic pathway. In common scion greenhouse experiments, leaf area-specific transpiration (E) and total leaf area increased with rootstock vigour and were positively correlated with fine-root Lp®. These results suggest that increased canopy water demands for scion grafted onto high-vigour rootstocks are matched by adjustments in root-system hydraulic conductivity through the combination of fine-root Lp® and increased root surface area.

Concepts: Gene, Grafting, Root, Plant reproduction, Grape, Viticulture, Phylloxera, Rootstock


Regionally distinct wine characteristics (terroir) are an important aspect of wine production and consumer appreciation. Microbial activity is an integral part of wine production, and grape and wine microbiota present regionally defined patterns associated with vineyard and climatic conditions, but the degree to which these microbial patterns associate with the chemical composition of wine is unclear. Through a longitudinal survey of over 200 commercial wine fermentations, we demonstrate that both grape microbiota and wine metabolite profiles distinguish viticultural area designations and individual vineyards within Napa and Sonoma Counties, California. Associations among wine microbiota and fermentation characteristics suggest new links between microbiota, fermentation performance, and wine properties. The bacterial and fungal consortia of wine fermentations, composed from vineyard and winery sources, correlate with the chemical composition of the finished wines and predict metabolite abundances in finished wines using machine learning models. The use of postharvest microbiota as an early predictor of wine chemical composition is unprecedented and potentially poses a new paradigm for quality control of agricultural products. These findings add further evidence that microbial activity is associated with wine terroir

Concepts: Yeast, Vitis vinifera, Wine, Fermentation, Viticulture, Winemaking, Terroir, Vineyard


Grapevine is a well-studied, economically relevant crop, whose associated bacteria could influence its organoleptic properties. In this study, the spatial and temporal dynamics of the bacterial communities associated with grapevine organs (leaves, flowers, grapes, and roots) and soils were characterized over two growing seasons to determine the influence of vine cultivar, edaphic parameters, vine developmental stage (dormancy, flowering, preharvest), and vineyard. Belowground bacterial communities differed significantly from those aboveground, and yet the communities associated with leaves, flowers, and grapes shared a greater proportion of taxa with soil communities than with each other, suggesting that soil may serve as a bacterial reservoir. A subset of soil microorganisms, including root colonizers significantly enriched in plant growth-promoting bacteria and related functional genes, were selected by the grapevine. In addition to plant selective pressure, the structure of soil and root microbiota was significantly influenced by soil pH and C:N ratio, and changes in leaf- and grape-associated microbiota were correlated with soil carbon and showed interannual variation even at small spatial scales. Diazotrophic bacteria, e.g., Rhizobiaceae and Bradyrhizobium spp., were significantly more abundant in soil samples and root samples of specific vineyards. Vine-associated microbial assemblages were influenced by myriad factors that shape their composition and structure, but the majority of organ-associated taxa originated in the soil, and their distribution reflected the influence of highly localized biogeographic factors and vineyard management.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Archaea, Bacteria, Organism, Soil, Root, Microorganism, Viticulture


This study investigated the fucoxanthin content of New Zealand (NZ) Undaria pinnatifida harvested from two locations in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand across its growing season. Fucoxanthin content and antioxidant properties of processed New Zealand U. pinnatifida and commercial wakame from Japan and Korea were further compared. Results showed that U. pinnatifida harvested from Port Underwood had higher fucoxanthin content in the blade compared to Pelorus Sound. The sporophyll also contained a significant amount of fucoxanthin throughout the harvest season, although lower than in the blade. Two antioxidant measurement methods, DPPH and CUPRAC, were utilised to measure antioxidant activities. Processed NZ U. pinnatifida had a lower fucoxanthin content and antioxidant activity than freeze-dried Undaria. Fucoxanthin content and antioxidant activities of NZ processed U. pinnatifida were not significantly different from other commercial samples from Japan and Korea. In conclusion, U. pinnatifida in New Zealand has a great potential to be a food and nutraceutical resource.

Concepts: Antioxidant, Harvest, New Zealand, Viticulture, Marlborough, New Zealand, Pelorus Sound, Alariaceae, Kenepuru Sound


A novel class of experimental fungicides has been discovered, which consists of special tetrasubstituted imidazoles. They are highly active against important phytopathogens, such as Botrytis cinerea (grey mould), Uncinula necator (grape powdery mildew), Mycosphaerella graminicola (wheat leaf blotch) and Alternaria solani (potato and tomato early blight). Their fungicidal efficacy is due to their ability to promote fungal tubulin polymerization, which leads to a disruption of microtubule dynamics. These imidazoles are five-membered ring analogs of similar substituted triazolopyrimidines and pyridazines with the same mode of action. A concise four-step synthesis route has been used to prepare them from commercially available starting materials.

Concepts: Microtubule, Plant pathogens and diseases, Viticulture, Botrytis cinerea, Alternaria, Alternaria solani, Uncinula necator


The aim of this research was to implement a methodology through the generation of a supervised classifier based on the Mahalanobis distance to characterize the grapevine canopy and assess leaf area and yield using RGB images. The method automatically processes sets of images, and calculates the areas (number of pixels) corresponding to seven different classes (Grapes, Wood, Background, and four classes of Leaf, of increasing leaf age). Each one is initialized by the user, who selects a set of representative pixels for every class in order to induce the clustering around them. The proposed methodology was evaluated with 70 grapevine (V. vinifera L. cv. Tempranillo) images, acquired in a commercial vineyard located in La Rioja (Spain), after several defoliation and de-fruiting events on 10 vines, with a conventional RGB camera and no artificial illumination. The segmentation results showed a performance of 92% for leaves and 98% for clusters, and allowed to assess the grapevine’s leaf area and yield with R2 values of 0.81 (p < 0.001) and 0.73 (p = 0.002), respectively. This methodology, which operates with a simple image acquisition setup and guarantees the right number and kind of pixel classes, has shown to be suitable and robust enough to provide valuable information for vineyard management.

Concepts: Liquid crystal display, Photography, Viticulture, Digital camera, Canopy, Pixel, Spanish wine, Wine terms


Copper (Cu) containing fungicides have been used for more than one century in Europe on agricultural soils, such as vineyard soils. Total Cu concentrations in such soils can exceed toxicological limits that are commonly derived using artificially spiked soils. This study surveyed Cu toxicity in vineyard soils with reference to soils spiked with CuCl(2). Soil was collected in six established European vineyards. At each site, samples representing a Cu concentration gradient were collected. A control (uncontaminated) soil sampled nearby the vineyard was spiked with CuCl(2). Toxicity was tested using standard ecotoxicity tests: two plant assays (Lycopersicon esculentum Miller (tomato) and Hordeum vulgare L. (barley) growth), one microbial assay (nitrification) and one invertebrate assay (Enchytraeus albidus reproduction). Maximal total Cu concentrations in the vineyard sites ranged 435-690mgCukg(-1), well above the local background (23-105mgCukg(-1)). Toxicity in spiked soils (50% inhibition) was observed at added soil Cu concentrations from 190 to 1039mgCukg(-1) (mean 540mgCukg(-1)) depending on the assay and the site. In contrast, significant adverse effects were only found for three bioassays in vineyard samples of one site and for two bioassays in another site. Biological responses in these cases were more importantly explained by other soil properties than soil Cu. Overall, no Cu toxicity to plants, microbial processes and invertebrates was observed in vineyard soil samples at Cu concentrations well above European Union limits protecting the soil ecosystem.

Concepts: Archaea, Soil, Toxicology, Copper, Europe, Toxicity, Barley, Viticulture


Abstract: In this study, ten clones of Vitis vinifera Cabernet franc (not yet commercial) have been phenotyped on precocity, grape composition and assessment of wine quality made by micro vinification in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Additionally, two original criteria have been considered: concentration of 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine in grapes and wines (the green bell pepper flavor) and resistance of grapevines to downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) by stilbene quantification upon infection. Precocity of veraison varied up to four days at veraison. Berry size and yield were highly variable among clones. However, these variables were not correlated. Tanins and anthocyanins varied among clones in grapes and wines. Variations in grape and wine IBMP were not significant. Some clones showed lower susceptibility for downy mildew on leaves. Lower susceptibility was linked to a higher production of stilbenic phytoalexins involved in downy mildew resistance mechanisms.

Concepts: Vitis vinifera, Wine, Grape, Vitis, Vitaceae, Viticulture, Vitis riparia, Cabernet Sauvignon