Patrick Wincker talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's New Hot Paper in the field of Plant &
Article Title: The grapevine genome sequence
suggests ancestral hexaploidization in major angiosperm
Authors: Jaillon, O, et al.
Year: SEP 27 2007
* Univ Evry, CEA, 2 Rue Gaston Cremieux,BP5706, F-91057
* Univ Evry, CEA, F-91057 Evry, France.
(addresses have been truncated)
Why do you think your paper is highly
This paper provides a reference genome sequence for the grapevine. It gives
direct access to the genes of this highly valuable crop, and as such is of
importance for researchers dealing with molecular aspects of grape
cultivation and wine making. A second contributing factor is that this
genome sequence highlights general aspects of flowering plant evolution,
changing the way genome duplication history is seen in this group.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
It describes new discoveries. The main finding is the global structure of
the grape genome; other points are related to the description of genes of
interest in aromatic properties, and how this genome reveals evolutionary
changes in the angiosperms (flowering plants).
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
The current challenges to grapevine culture are mostly related to the
existence of pathogens for which natural resistance is not widespread, and
to the excessive use of chemicals for fighting these pathogens and
improving yields. The genome sequence, presented for the first time in this
paper, will help in rationalizing the fight against diseases, for example
by the introduction of resistance genes.
"This project was launched by the
French and Italian ministries of
It will also provide a global framework for understanding how the gene
content of a particular grape variety impacts the aromatic properties of
the wine it produces. Finally, this paper has a more fundamental impact, as
it reveals that the evolution of flowering plants was marked by a global
genome arrangement that gave rise to many of today's species.
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any problems along the way?
This project was launched by the French and Italian ministries of
agriculture. Genome laboratories in both countries combined their efforts
towards the completion of a high-quality genome sequence. The main
difficulty was in the choice of the cultivar to be sequenced, as the
economic importance of each cultivar varies in different countries. The
final resolution was to use a highly inbred line that can be used as a
reference for all other cultivated isolates. This explains the high
fidelity of the sequence, a result that could not have been obtained with
most commercial isolates that are highly heterozygous.
Where do you see your research leading in the
The grapevine genome will be used by two groups of researchers. First,
those interested in grapevine improvement are currently testing approaches
to select new disease resistance loci, and to provide a rationale for the
aromatic properties of wine. Second, those interested in angiosperm
evolution are using the discoveries of this paper to reassess the
relationships between genome duplications and speciation in this important
group of species.
Do you foresee any social or political implications
for your research?
As with other major plants which have had their genome sequenced, this work
will lead to rational use of genetic information for crop improvement, a
subject of intense debate.
Patrick Wincker, Ph.D.
Evry, France Web
Keywords: grapevine genome sequence, molecular aspects of grape
cultivation and wine making, grape genome, flowering plant evolution,
genome duplication history, genome reveals evolutionary changes in the
angiosperms, grapevine culture.