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Investigating the quality of grape from the genes

'A genomic approach to the identification of genetic and environmental components underlying the quality of the grape'. This is the title of the R+D project financed by Genoma Espa?a in which the Department of Vegetable Physiology of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Navarre is participating.

Over the next three years the Fundación Genoma España will provide two million euros to identify the genes responsible for the quality of grapes. Six research teams are working on a dessert variety of grape; specifically, the variety known as Hamburg Moscatel is to be studied. In a parallel manner, in Canada, the same study will be carried out, but on grape variety grown for wine production - Cabernet Sauvignon. The University of Navarre is participating in the project, providing a cultivation model that has been developed in its laboratories: from a cutting, in four months a plant with its bunch of grapes is obtained. These plants may be grown in the varying environmental conditions desired and form the basis for posterior genetic study at other centres involved in the project. Graped in four months fruit of a PhD thesis 'Four months after planting a vine cutting in a potting plant, a bunch of grapes is obtained very similar to produced on the vine in the vineyard. Thus, three harvests are produced in a year.' This model was developed, while researcher Eva Santamaría was investigating a vine plant disease on another variety of grape for her PhD thesis. Also, José Miguel Martínez Zapater, principal researcher in the project, was precisely looking for a similar model controlled and rapid growth wherein the environmental conditions could be fixed and, thus, a homogenous series obtained. The Fundación Genoma España, a public body of a statewide nature, but working jointly with private companies, is seeking to boost research into genomics and, thereby, be involved in the development of biotechnology in Spain. The 195,000 euros earmarked for this project to the University of Navarre will be invested in new greenhouses which will facilitate the research work of the Department of Vegetable Physiology. Currently, the vine cuttings of the Hamburg Moscatel variety are being stored on a refrigeration chamber awaiting the moment to be planted and the start of the project to reveal the genomic basis for grape quality and for the changes in the final quality that the environment may produce.,

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