COST Action FA1003
GRAPENET / Working Group 3: Phenotyping of core collections and association genetics research
Coordinator: Dr. M. Stella GRANDO

On the basis of the phenotypic diversity and multi-locus SSR profile, a number of cultivars will be selected to enter an international sample, representing the entire grapevine diversity, and form core collections that could be later planted in field experiments by various institutions that plan to offer such contributions. These plants or their DNA will be genotyped for a large number of genes of interest using the recently developed DNA chips. The core collections will be constituted using a computer programme available at INRA.
In the beginning, the core collections and samples for association genetic studies will be virtual (computer list of plants and their data - phenotype and genotype). These lists and datasets, however, will be available for research teams external to the Action, conducting research on their target genes for quality or oenological traits, thus ensuring the value of the project for the scientific community.
Furthermore, the Action also aims at enabling the wider scientific community to establish an international trial of core collections, which will depend on the involvement and interest of further organizations to do the testing. While this process (especially multiplication of the plants) obviously will take time and requires substantial resources, and thus may extend beyond the duration of the Action, the partners estimate that the possibility to physically maintain core collections and to actually plant and compare them in field experiments is a key long-term objective for grapevine genetic research and for viticulturists at large and should be pursued by all means. The ECPGR Vitis Working Group provides a certain guarantee for the long-term sustainability of the core collections trials, association genetics studies and other research activities established by the partners within this COST Action.
The core collections could be further phenotyped for characters such as berry quality and resistance to abiotic stress to study correlations between genetic diversity and important characters in a full-scale association genetics approach. This fundamental study represents a new and innovative area of research that will benefit from the knowledge of phenotypes of the marginal and therefore very interesting and important environmental conditions of the Caucasus region.