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Climate change and viticulture: how rootstocks may contribute to vine adaptation to challenging environments

Dr Nathalie Ollat, INRA, Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, Bordeaux, France

Wednesday 13 July 2011, 1600-1700
LEC Training Rooms 1 And 2

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture Seminar

Unlike other crops in Europe, the economic added value of viticulture is mainly associated with terroirs, vintages and regions of production. The specificity of the wines produced in different regions depends mainly on varieties, cultural practices and environment. Consequently climate change could have drastic consequences on grapevine production and wine quality. According to the predicted increases in temperature and modifications in precipitation, vine phenology and water status will be most affected at the plant level.

Among the different ways in which viticulture could adapt to new climatic scenarios, the alteration of the genetic resources seems the most attractive. Grapevine is mainly grown as a grafted plant because of the susceptibility of the species Vitis vinifera to the soil-dwelling aphid pest Phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae (Fitch). Phylloxera resistant rootstocks, mainly interspecific Vitis hybrids, have been used widely for one century. Although growers are not very keen to change scion varieties (since scion variety governs wine type), there is considerable more scope to alter the rootstock genotype. Field observations have demonstrated that rootstocks have a strong impact on vine development and adaptation to environmental conditions. Classical breeding procedures have resulted in a range of rootstocks adapted to different soil types.

Our research aims to improve our understanding of the physiological and genetic determinisms of rootstock effects on scion development. The ultimate goal of this work is to breed new rootstocks. A few examples of rootstock effects on vine phenology, vegetative growth and plant water status will be presented during the seminar.