Reference genomes of Chilean wineyards: the science behind the vine
September 13, 2018

Celebrating the National Day of Wine, UC Davis Chile, center of international excellence funded by CORFO and dependent on the University of California Davis, in alliance with Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB) and companies Víña Concha y Toro and VSPT Wine Group, announced important advances in the execution of the genetic identification project of grape clones of the most relevant varieties for the wine industry in Chile: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. During the activity called "Deciphering the Chilean Vineyard", the scientific leaders of the project put at the disposal of the scientific community and the national and international wine industry, a web platform with the reference genome of Carménère. During the next months, all genomes of developed vines will be available on this platform.

Dario Cantu, project leader and Associate Professor of Biological Systems of the Department of Viticulture and Enology of UC Davis, California, highlighted that the identification of the genome of these varieties is the first project of this type and size that is made worldwide. that will position Chile as a relevant player in genomic research for a global industry. "We are deeply proud as a team to share this knowledge with the wine community of Chile and the world, and to facilitate access to basic scientific information, highly necessary for innovation in the industry, developing technologies that improve both efficiency and competitiveness throughout the production chain, "he said. The counterpart of the project at local level was in the hands of Dr. Álvaro Castro, of UC Davis Chile and of Dr. Claudio Meneses, by UNAB.

The importance of R+D in the private sector

The role of academia and companies has been fundamental for the development of this knowledge. The five strains investigated represent approximately 80% of the national wine production and most of the planted hectares, so that a finished knowledge of the varietal composition and its characteristics is the base to develop and promote new technologies, better techniques of agronomic and cellar management, improve agricultural productivity and crop quality.

"We are proud to be part of the UC Davis Chile Center of Excellence, and in particular of this project that will provide an excellent tool for Chilean viticulture. We are convinced that associative work is the best way to achieve critical mass to carry out quality research, "said Juan Cury, Agricultural and Supply Manager of VSPT Wine Group. On the other hand, Gerard Casaubon, Director of the CII of Viña Concha y Toro, added that "having the complete genome of the Carmenere cultivar is a milestone that greatly impacts the entire industry." Knowing in detail the code that governs our emblematic stock opens up several opportunities of future work, as many as our ability to innovate allows us to develop, ranging from own and traceable clonal selections, to the development of technological solutions to improve their productivity and quality, strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of our industry. "

The academic role on knowledge transfer

Public-private research is one of the critical factors in the development of R & D, and that is why the role of academia is fundamental in this type of exchanges, and the development of relevant research for the development of strategic industries not only contributes to enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of local companies, but also accelerates the transfer of knowledge and good practices between highly specialized and competitive industries, such as the wine industries of California and Chile.

The Vice-Rector of Research and Doctorate of the Andrés Bello University, Dr. Ariel Orellana, commented that "for our institution, participating in this project is significant since it demonstrates our leadership in research works that generate knowledge to support the work of innovation in the industry, which allows us to open new development opportunities for the wine industry, articulating science with the market ".

In order to share knowledge and make visible the potential and opportunities that are open for future technological developments and the impact for the industry's value chain, the reference genome of the Carmenere is available to the local and international technological scientific community on the following link: http://169.237.73.197/carmenere/