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Transcriptomics Provides a Genetic Signature of Vineyard Site and Offers Insight into Vintage-Independent Inoculated Fermentation Outcomes


Ribosomal DNA amplicon sequencing of grape musts has demonstrated that microorganisms occur nonrandomly and are associated with the vineyard of origin, suggesting a role for the vineyard, grape, and wine microbiome in shaping wine fermentation outcomes. Here, ribosomal DNA amplicon sequencing from grape musts and RNA sequencing of eukaryotic transcripts from primary fermentations inoculated with the wine yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae RC212 were used to profile fermentations from 15 vineyards in California and Oregon across two vintages. These data demonstrate that the relative abundance of fungal organisms detected by ribosomal DNA amplicon sequencing correlated with neither transcript abundance from those same organisms within the RNA sequencing data nor gene expression of the inoculated RC212 yeast strain. These data suggest that the majority of the fungi detected in must by ribosomal DNA amplicon sequencing were not active during the primary stage of these inoculated fermentations and were not a major factor in determining RC212 gene expression. However, unique genetic signatures were detected within the ribosomal DNA amplicon and eukaryotic transcriptomic sequencing that were predictive of vineyard site and region. These signatures included S. cerevisiae gene expression patterns linked to nitrogen, sulfur, and thiamine metabolism. These genetic signatures of site offer insight into specific environmental factors to consider with respect to fermentation outcomes and vineyard site and regional wine characteristics.IMPORTANCE The wine industry generates billions of dollars of revenue annually, and economic productivity is in part associated with regional distinctiveness of wine sensory attributes. Microorganisms associated with grapes and wineries are influenced by region of origin, and given that some microorganisms play a role in fermentation, it is thought that microbes may contribute to the regional distinctiveness of wine. In this work, as in previous studies, it is demonstrated that specific bacteria and fungi are associated with individual wine regions and vineyard sites. However, this work further shows that their presence is not associated with detectable fungal gene expression during the primary fermentation or the expression of specific genes by the inoculate Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain RC212. The detected RC212 gene expression signatures associated with region and vineyard site also allowed the identification of flavor-associated metabolic processes and environmental factors that could impact primary fermentation outcomes. These data offer novel insights into the complexities and subtleties of vineyard-specific inoculated wine fermentation and starting points for future investigations into factors that contribute to regional wine distinctiveness.

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