|Authors: ||D.J. Gray, Z.T. Li, N.L. Grant, D.A. Dean, R.N. Trigiano, S.A. Dhekney|
|Keywords: ||plant genetic improvement, disease resistance, Vitis|
Grapevine is unique among all crops because of its special sensory attributes.
A relatively small number of well-known elite cultivars and their landraces account for the majority of world production.
Those few cultivars are subject to significant disease pressures, making substantial chemical control and sanitation necessary in many regions.
Although better genetic resistance is required to ease production losses, grapevine is difficult to improve by conventional breeding due to obstacles imposed by its lifecycle.
Because of inbreeding depression, self-incompatibility and a long lifecycle, it is not feasible to add specific genetic traits to elite cultivars.
However, technologies to bypass those obstacles are now available.
Initially considered to be highly recalcitrant to advanced genetic engineering, the crucial cell culture and gene insertion systems now are well-established for a wide range of grapevine cultivars.
The recently-published genomic sequence map of LSQUOPinot NoirRSQUO is a significant achievement, providing invaluable insights into grapevine genetics and greatly accelerating the discovery of useful functional genetic elements.
Application of precision breeding technology to cultivar development, in which only genetic fragments from sexually-compatible “parents” are utilized, is now attainable and is a logical extension of conventional breeding.
A precision breeding approach is more predictable, much less disruptive, and more efficient than that of conventional breeding because only specific traits are transferred and key obstacles are avoided.
However, as with all new varieties, substantial field evaluation, as is the norm for conventionally-bred crops, will be required to determine whether or not precision bred versions of elite cultivars will possess desirable attributes and/or otherwise be useful.
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