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Cold-Hardy Grape Collection
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USDA Cold-Hardy Grape (Vitis) Collection


Grapes (Vitis) are a highly diverse group, with an estimated 60 species worldwide. The PGRU collection maintains 1,416 accessions from 27 species and cultivated hybrids, with an emphasis on cold-hardy grapevines. Modern breeding continues to utilize wild relatives for disease resistance and climate adaptations. Regional grape production is predicted to shift in response to climate change (Alikadic et al. 2019). Grapevine development is primarily controlled by temperature, measured as chilling hours and growing degree days (Martínez-Lüscher et al. 2016). Sensitivity to extreme cold temperatures limits where Vitis vinifera, the domesticated wine and table grape, is grown. However, hybridization of V. vinifera with cold-hardy Vitis species can expand the range of grape cultivation (Londo and Kovaleski 2017). Although many grape cultivars, particularly wine grapes, are grown for their distinctive qualities and cultural acceptance, utilization of broader genetic diversity will sustain grape production in the future despite shifting climates.

One of the greatest germplasm success stories took place during the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe where vineyards were confronting severe loss in quality and production following introduction of grapevine pests and pathogens from North America. North American Vitis species provided genetic resistance to these diseases, sparking an interest in hybrids as table or wine grapes, and rootstocks. Despite the success of interspecific grapevines, global production still favors V. vinifera cultivars for wine and table grapes (Reisch et al. 2012). Cultivated grapevines, including Vitis vinifera and Vitis interspecific hybrids, are among the most culturally and economically valuable fruit crops worldwide. Annual global production averages 73.9M metric tons (FAO 2019). Although V. vinifera was domesticated near the Black and Caspian Seas, North America and Asia are centers for Vitis diversity and targets for conservation (Reisch et al. 2012).

Excerpt from: Gutierrez B, Battaglia K, Zhong G-Y (2020) Preserving the future with the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Unit tart cherry, grape, and apple germplasm collections. Journal of the American Pomological Society 7 


Alikadic A, Pertot I, Eccel E, Dolci C, Zarbo C, Caffarra A, et al. (2019) The impact of climate change on grapevine phenology and the influence of altitude: A regional study. Agric For Meteorol 271:73–82.

FAO (2019) FAOSTAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.

Londo JP, Kovaleski AP (2017) Characterization of wild North American grapevine cold hardiness using differential thermal analysis. Am J Enol Vitic ajev.2016.16090.

Martínez-Lüscher J, Kizildeniz T, Vučetić V, Dai Z, Luedeling E, van Leeuwen C, et al. (2016) Sensitivity of Grapevine Phenology to Water Availability, Temperature and CO2 Concentration. Front Environ Sci 4.

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PGRU Grape Accession Distribution 1988-2021

Data from GRIN-Global