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A Field Collection of Indigenous Grapevines as a Valuable Repository for Applied Research


The grapevine is an economically important plant, with a historical connection to the development of human culture. Currently, over 6000 accessions are known as individual grapevine varieties, some of which are important to national heritage, valuable for current viticultural practices, and as genetic resources to maintain plasticity under changing climatic conditions, environmental sustainability, and market demands. Recently, the diversity of cultivated grapevines has declined significantly, due to the increased focus of global wine industries on a few major cultivars. Moreover, due to biotic and abiotic stresses, the wild V. vinifera germplasm's genetic diversity has declined, with some varieties on the verge of extinction. Vitis germplasm conservation can be achieved via either in situ (e.g., protected areas) or Ex situ (e.g., field collections, seed banks, and tissue culture collections) methods. This study aims to highlight the importance of Vitis field bank collections. We demonstrate the research done in the Israeli indigenous Vitis vinifera collection. The multi-layer analysis of the varieties enabled the identification of drought stress-resistant varieties, and suggested a mechanism for this resistance through noting the dramatic phenological differences in foliage development between resistant and sensitive varieties. In addition, we show a general characterization of the varieties via major grape characteristics, including bunch and berry shape, as well as their possible utilization based on their aromatic and phenolic profiles.

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