Ray Isle
August 28, 2007

A joint effort between French and Italian researchers has decoded the first complete grapevine genome, using a Pinot Noir variant, according to a report released yesterday by the journal Nature (not easily accessible, but there's more complete coverage here and here). The team's initial plan was to isolate genes responsible for disease susceptibility in wine grapes; they didn't find those, but apparently did find 13 genes responsible for this particular variety's specific flavors. They also found that grapevines have significantly more of the genes that produce resveratrol (the compound found in red grapes recently associated with a number of health benefits). So, are we looking at a wave of super-resveratrol wines somewhere down the line? And are we looking at those grapes being patented by a multinational corporation, which will then charge a technology license fee on every vine planted, or sue growers who use the patented grapes without paying that fee? Hm. Guess we'll just have to wait and see. 

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