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Exploring genetic and epigenetic diversity within clonal populations of major Pinot varieties of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.)

Paulo Callipo

Associated Student, HGU

Grapevines are vegetatively propagated to maintain and genetically preserve favorable agronomic and oenological characteristics. Cultivars with ancient backgrounds, such as Pinot, have been cultivated and propagated for millennia, undergoing genetic modifications through somatic mutations and epigenetic changes. These mutations have significantly contributed to clonal variation in economically important traits such as yield, sugar content, cluster architecture, and budding time. While intravarietal trait variation has been reported for several grapevine cultivars, the underlying molecular drivers are vastly unknown. To systematically explore and harness this diversity for studying complex trait architectures to advance future grapevine improvement, Geisenheim University's grapevine breeding department has curated a diverse population of over 260 Pinot clones from various origins. This collection exhibits substantial diversity in crucial viticultural traits, with comprehensive trait records on key parameters spanning over a decade, including berry yield and juice quality. The project aims to delve into the genetic and epigenetic diversity within this extensive Pinot collection, seeking to understand its scope and nature, and subsequently link mutations and epigenetic variation to trait variation. The findings will shed light on the contributions and relative importance of genetic and epigenetic mutations to clonal variation, enabling to accelerate future clonal selection and identifying molecular variants for precision breeding approaches. Ultimately, this will pave the way for the development of improved Pinot clones, fostering enhanced sustainability and climate resilience in viticulture.

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