Major Accomplishments

Some major outcomes of the VitisGen project so far include:

New Breeding Stock and Varieties under Development:

Genetic Mapping for Marker Assisted Selection (MAS):

Emasculating (removing the anthers from) a grape flower with tweezers

  • 16 core Vitis families have had their genetic maps developed.
  • More than 70 marker-trait associations have been identified.
  • Over 20,000 samples have been screened using MAS.
  • MAS eliminated over 60% of inferior seedlings (saving the breeding program significant time and money).
  • 300 seedlings, based on previous years’ crosses, will begin fruiting in 2019.

Powdery Mildew Phenotyping robot:

Robot phenotyping powdery mildew resistance

  • Through the development of computer vision and computer learning, we are able to quickly evaluate leaves for powderly mildew resistance.
  • Currently, the PM robot is able to image a leaf disk on average every 20 seconds!
  • So far, it has captured 67,496 images from 18,864 leaf disks.
  • PM robot evaluates PM severity with 94% accuracy (as accurate as human experts)
  • Learn more about PM phenotyping in this VitisGen webinar “Automated Evaluation of Grape Breeding Progeny to Reduce the Phenotyping Bottleneck

Stacking Powdery Mildew Resistance:

Grape seeds held in a hand during planting

  • In 2018, crosses were made from plants from Minnesota, New York and California that contain multiple genes for PM resistance. Over 600 seeds from these crosses are being grown out, in hopes of finding some with multiple genes coding for PM resistance (= more durable resistance).
  • 550 of these seeds come from a parent that also has genes for foliar phylloxera resistance.

AmpSeq and rhAmpSeq:

  • Our team helped develop AmpSeq, a rapid and inexpensive method to identify new genetic markers.
  • We are using AmpSeq to screen for fungicide resistance in commercial vineyards.
  • rhAmpSeq, an even higher throughput method for marker identification, is now available for multiple crops and breeding programs.
  • rhAmpSeq has been used on 6 VitisGen families, totally 3,069 samples from three different breeding populations.

Wine quality trait marker validation:

  • 1,400 samples are being phenotyped, and will be analyzed to determine genetic markers tied to fruit quality traits.

Table grape cluster architecture marker validation:

  • Two mapping populations have been planted.
  • Clusters have been phenotyped for (1) berry shape and size and (2) rachis branching patterns.
  • DNA samples have been prepared and sent in for rhAmpSeq.