The vine Vitis vinifera is the fourth plant whose genome has been completely deciphered, after Arabidopsis thaliana, rice and poplar. The publication of its genome sequence is the starting point for a detailed characterization of the function of the genes of this plant. This is crucial for a better understanding of natural genetic variability and its links with phenotype variation, but also opens up new lines of research on its tolerance to abiotic stress, the ripening and quality of its clusters, and its resistance mechanisms to pathogens. These applications should contribute to the reduction of pesticide use and the development of sustainable viticulture.
Moreover, comparative analysis of the vine genome with those of A. thaliana, rice and poplar revealed that the organization of the vine genome was closest to that of the ancestral species from which all these plants derived during their evolution. This made it possible to deduce a possible organization of the genome of the ancestor of all dicotyledonous plants. Another major result of this analysis is the existence in the vine of large families of genes involved in the aromatic characteristics of wine.
Although a species of strong agronomic interest, the biology of the vine does not make it a very suitable model organism (perennial plant, long reproduction cycle, very heterozygous genome).
Each year the vine develops according to the seasons. It follows a vegetative cycle that consists of several stages.
November to February: the vine goes under winter rest. The sap no longer circulates in the plant.
March to April: the buds begin to develop (“budburst”). Twigs and leaves begin to grow. The vine wakes up, the sap flows back into the plant.
May to June: small flowers appear (“flowering”).
July: the foliage continues to develop and the flowers will give grapes. This is the fruit set.
August: the green grapes grow and ripen: they turn either red or yellow, become less acidic and become richer in sugars and aromas.
« The grapevine genome sequence suggests ancestral hexaploidization in major angiosperm phyla », Jaillon 0., et al., Nature, 2007
« Historical origins and genetic diversity of wine grapes », P. This, T. Lacombe et M. R. Thomas TRENDS, Genetics, 2006