The future of the vine comes from where it all began, that is the first place of domestication of Vitis vinifera, which corresponds to today’s Georgia. Here, in the Caucasus, there is a vine that we can consider the Holy Grail of contemporary viticulture, a variety resistant to diseases and capable of adapting to climate change. It is called Vitis vinifera Mgaloblishvili and for years it has been the focus of research by the State University of Milan which, already in 2018, had shown that the germplasm of the Georgian vine possesses unique characteristics in terms of resistance to diseases and in particular more harmful to the vine, downy mildew.
Now, the research conducted by Silvia Toffolatti and Gabriella De Lorenzis, researchers from the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (DiSAA) of the State University, with the collaboration of researchers from the Department of Biosciences, scholars from the Edmund Mach Foundation (FEM) of San Michele all’Adige (TN) and David Maghradze, researcher of the Scientific Research Center of Agriculture and of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Biosystems Engineering of the Georgian Technical University of Tbilisi, makes another step forward.
The Mgaloblishvili genome sequencing project curated by Valentina Ricciardi, PhD student at the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Milan, is in fact the winner of the KeyGene DNA-Day competition. KeyGene scientists will isolate high-quality, high-molecular-weight DNA from Mgaloblishvili, to be used for long-read sequencing of the genome. Once the genomic sequence of the Mgaloblishvili vine has been obtained, it will be possible to identify genes capable of contributing to resistance to downy mildew more quickly, thus reducing the use of fungicides to protect the vines from this serious disease.
“Mgaloblishvili is a variety of Vitis vinifera native to Georgia, in the Caucasus, where the vine is domesticated. It is known for its resistance to disease. We chose Valentina Ricciardi’s project for the social relevance of this variety and for the scientific interest of the study “, comments Dick Roelofs, DNA Innovations team leader at KeyGene in the Netherlands.
“Mgaloblishvili is the first variety of Vitis vinifera that has demonstrated resistance against the pathogen of American import which causes downy mildew in European vines. The Georgian cultivar has a unique resistance mechanism, based on the recognition of pathogens, on the ethylene signaling pathway and on both structural and chemical defenses “, explains Gabriella De Lorenzis, manager of the Ricciardi project. “Several resistance-related genes have already been identified, both traditional resistance genes and so-called susceptibility genes. A better understanding of the genome of this variety therefore represents a very promising development “, adds Valentina Ricciardi, illustrating the molecular properties of the Mgaloblishvili variety.
In past is state sequenced and published the entire genome of Pinot Noir, and now De Lorenzis and Ricciardi they hope that DNA isolation of high quality and high molecular weight performed by scientists KeyGene will allow of build the entire genome of the Mgaloblishvili strain faster. “This will make it much easier to identify crucial genetic differences between Georgian Mgaloblishvili and other varieties. We think of the differences involved in disease resistance and in the development of other important characteristics. We will be able to better understand and decipher this extraordinary reserve of genetic variability, making precious resources available to scientists and breeders “, resumes Valentina Ricciardi. The discoveries on the Mgaloblishvili genome, combined with the results of previous research by the Milan team, will allow us to investigate the mechanisms underlying resistance characteristics. “We want to contribute to making the cultivation of vines more sustainable and profitable, to which we owe one of the drinks most loved by many of us”, concludes De Lorenzis.