VitisGen: Accelerating grape cultivar improvement via phenotyping centers and next generation markers.
PI: Lance Cadle-Davidson, USDA-Geneva
This Long-Term, Coordinated Agricultural Project will accelerate grape cultivar improvement by providing cutting-edge molecular marker technologies, rigorous centralized phenotyping, and molecular breeding support. Grape industry surveys and scientist-stakeholder workshops repeatedly identify three traits of high importance to U.S. grape growers for cultivar improvement: powdery mildew resistance, cold tolerance, and fruit quality. To further facilitate industry- and consumer-driven development and adoption of improved cultivars, quantitative economic analyses will be conducted to evaluate the benefits for consumers, producers, and the economy as a whole from enhanced traits in new cultivars. This will inform breeding strategies to increase consumption of novel, desirable grape products – impacting nine stakeholder high-priorities in four SCRI focus areas.
The molecular breeding efforts will have two components: marker development and marker application. Marker development across 20 diverse mapping populations (with outreach to other specialty crops) will use Illumina sequencing to genotype 50,000 markers per plant – resulting in dozens of markers per trait-associated locus for interval mapping and marker-assisted breeding. In addition to traits centrally phenotyped, breeders will use standardized phenotyping of additional traits locally, which will also be mapped. Finally, existing markers will be applied in 20,000 breeding lines, resulting in rapid impact. For example, existing markers for seedlessness and powdery mildew resistance can be screened following embryo rescue, and seeded, susceptible in vitro plantlets discarded years earlier than normal, resulting in planting of more seedlings with desired phenotypes, additional improved traits, improved resistance durability, and improved efficiency, all focused on industry and consumer priorities.