Breeding Insight, a USDA project that provides resources to specialty crop breeding programs, and VitisGen2, a multi-institute research project, have partnered together to fund an effort to map the genomes of two grapevine germplasm collections.

Curated by the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, the goal of the partnership is to make the data available to public and private plant breeders in an effort to help make the U.S. grape industry more resilient.

The two samples of the grapevine germplasm will be collected at Cornell AgriTech, located in Geneva, N.Y., and at the University of California, Davis.

Launched in 2018, the Breeding Insight initiative was created to provide opportunities for specialty breeders in assimilating tools, technologies, and methods to catalyze the routine and accessible use of genomic insights. 

VitisGen2 developed the rhAmpSeq marker panel, which is a method to help identify new genetic markers across multiple crops and breeding programs.

Using the rhAmpSeq platform, each sample collected in the study will have 2,000 DNA markers spanning all 19 grapevine chromosomes, allowing more detailed comparisons of genetic traits.

“In the end, we will have the most detailed genotypic dataset for grapevine ever created,” said Moira Sheehan, Breeding Insight project director.

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Lance Cadle-Davidson, VitisGen2 project co-leader and a USDA-ARS geneticist based at Cornell AgriTech, also cited benefits to characterizing the germplasm collections. 

“One of the reasons to do this is to discover what genetic diversity in Vitis exists out there,” Cadle-Davidson said. “If we can capture all that genetic diversity, it will actually speed up our analysis of breeding lines and help us identify the genetic basis of desirable traits.”

“It’s akin to Google going out and scraping words from all the websites so that they can run their search algorithms faster,” he said.

VitisGen2 is funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s specialty crops research initiative. Breeding Insight is funded by USDA-ARS through a grant to Cornell. 

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