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Canada and Spain finance joint grapevine research project


Kelowna, BC – February 16, 2004 – A new large-scale genomics research project that focuses on wine grapes has been announced by Genome British Columbia, Genome Canada and Genome Espana. The C$6.2-million project is jointly funded by Genome Canada and Genoma Espana. Approximately $3.1 million will be spent in BC, with the project being managed by Genome BC and research being carried out at the Wine Research Centre at the University of British Columbia. The remaining $3.1 million will be used by collaborating researchers in Spain to research table grapes.

The project will study how genes control berry ripening in response to the environment, and will generate new information to improve viticulture practices and enhance wine quality.

“Very little has been done to study the grapevine at the molecular level in order to understand how its genetic makeup affects quality and growth,” says Dr Steven Lund, project leader and assistant professor at UBC’s Wine Research Centre in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. “Our team will focus first on sequencing the genes in Cabernet Sauvignon berries, which will help us determine how they control the ripening process and how they can enhance breeding and assist viticulturalists in vineyard management practices to improve the quality of Canadian wines.”

“Complementary scientific expertise in Canada and Spain will facilitate innovative applications of genomics technologies to problems facing the grape and wine industries and, ultimately, promote knowledge transfer between Spain and Canada," says Dr Martin Godbout, president and CEO of Genome Canada. "This is an excellent fit for both countries.”

The grape genomics project is one of three collaborative large-scale genomics initiatives that are being jointly funded by Genome Canada and Genome Spain. Researchers in Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) and Spain (Madrid) will identify important biological factors that may improve aquaculture practices for the commercially relevant flatfish species Atlantic halibut and Senegal sole. In Ontario, researchers will study neurological development and neurological and behavioral disorders.