story to find out more.
Colorful grapes from the Plant Genetic Resources
Unit grape germplasm collection in Geneva, N.Y. Click the image for more
information about it.
Grapes' Color Linked to a Gene's Inner Workings
By Luis Pons
April 4, 2006
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have made an important
genetic discovery that, in addition to unlocking secrets about why grapes are
different colors, may allow for more efficient breeding of color-specific
Color is perhaps the most important of grape characteristics, a critical
component of table, juice and wine grapes that's also been linked to
Owens of ARS' new
Genetics Research Unit in Geneva, N.Y., and collaborators at France's
National Institute of Agricultural Research
in Montpellier found that much of the color variety in modern grape cultivars
can be traced to variations in a gene recently found to be a causative factor
in white grapes' lack of color.
ARS geneticist Christopher Owens examines grapes
for ripeness. Click the image for more information about it.
The variations in this gene, which is called VvmybA1, are caused, in
part, by movement of Gret1, a genetic mutation within it, according to
He explained that Gret1 is a type of element that's also known as a
type of "jumping gene" because it's a piece of DNA that moves around
within a genome. Owens found that Gret1's movements slightly alter the
surrounding DNA. These alterations create additional variations in
VvmybA1, which in turn influence the grape's fruit color.
The finding is a potential milestone in grape research and production that
may one day lead to breeding for color-specific grapes as well as for grapes
that can enhance the stability of wines and juice, according to Owens. It may
also spur better understanding of relationships between fruit color and
health-imparting compounds, as well as the effects of environment and
management practices on grape color and quality.
The research may even lead to the development of grapes with novel colors.
Owens' work expanded on independent 2004 research in Japan that identified
Gret1 and showed that its interaction with VvmybA1, which is
found in all Vitis vinifera grapes, causes white grapes' color.
more about this research in the April 2006 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.