Biodiversity



New solutions through old diversity

Over a long time, biodiversity had been mainly an issue for nature conservation. Meanwhile, it is generally understood that biodiversity bears practical value for the entire society. Evolution has developed a multitude of sustainable solutions. We can use this diversity to develop new sustainable ways of farming. For viticulture, wild relatives of our grapevine are of particular interest and have a lot to offer. Wild species from North America harbour, for example, a natural immunity against Downy Mildew. Over decades, breeders have succeeded to introduce this natural immunity into our cultivated grapevine leaving aside the rather unpleasant taste of wild vines (the so-called "foxiness").

But nature does not sleep - already the first strains of Downy Mildew emerged that can thrive on such robust vines and threaten to destroy these achievements. So we must not rest, but have to look for new paths. In addition to the genetic resources of wild vines from overseas, also our local wild vine, Vitis sylvestris, has a lot to offer. In addition to immunity to Downy and Powdery Mildew, we have also identified some wild vines that are able to cope with the newly emerging diseases black rot and Esca.

In order to win the race of arms against the pathogens classical breeding is complemented by the latest findings of molecular biology. Using genetic markers and molecular techniques, it is possible to pick out the most promising candidates among the progeny of a cross already in the seedling stage, thus saving valuable time.

 

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