Australian scientist discovers grape genes resistant to mildew
December 05 , 2011

Australia has developed genetically modified (GM) grape vines which may help resist the devastating powdery effects of mildew, following 10 years of research, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

Mildew blighted vineyards across southern Australia last season due to the wet and warm weather with many grapes left to rot on the vines.

However, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) research scientist Ian Dry, said the vines have not been tested in the field because the industry isn't keen on GM technology.

"What we've done is identify two genes from the North American grape vine which confer resistance from these two mildew pathogens," he was quoted as saying.

He said the genes had been transferred into a number of wine grape cultivars, including shiraz and generate transgenic vines.

"Because we can't do field trials, we've had to do all the inoculations in the laboratory," he explained.

Dry said there were a number of reasons why the wine industry wouldn't currently go down the GM path.

"Australia's wine industry is very much leveraged towards exports, and one thing we have found, particularly with exports into Europe, the European market is very sensitive to the suggestion wines were made from GM vines.

"Until the European market feels more comfortable, I don't see much opportunity for Australian growers to use transgenic vines for exports anyway."

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