Summary of Awards to Date

Towards understanding mechanisms of host resistance to downy midlew disease of grapevine (Vitis L.)

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Sep. 1, 2010 - Aug. 31, 2013

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Jiang Lu
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University


Xu, X., Folta, K., Hunter, W., and Huang, H.


Downy mildew (DM) is the single most damaging disease of grapes worldwide and can cause deformed shoots, tendrils, inflorescences and clusters of young berries. A major outbreak of this disease can cause severe losses in yield and berry quality. The European grape (Vitis vinifera) is generally highly susceptible to downy mildew disease. Downy mildew is also a limited factor to grow bunch grapes in East United States. In order to produce this crop, a heavy fungicide-spray program is required. A promising alternative strategy that could replace fungicides is to find out the unique genes in resistant species responding to the pathogen and improve the resistance of the bunch grapes to downy mildew through transgenic methods. In this perspective, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms of natural defense responses of resistant grapevine. In this regard, we propose to use muscadine grape, a grape completely "immune" to DM, as the resistant source. The overall goal of this project is to improve V. vinifera grapes and their hybrids to DM disease, making the viticulture industry more profitable /sustainable while protecting the environment. Specific objectives of this project include: 1) Identify genes resistant to downy mildew in muscadine grapes; 2) Isolate the putative downy mildew resistant genes 3) Improving downy mildew resistance of bunch grapes by genetically engineer the downy mildew resistant genes obtained from muscadine grapes; 4) Improve the biotechnology teaching capacity at FAMU, and train graduate / undergraduate students on genomics, bioinformatics and biotechnology. The proposed project is highly relevant to NIFA Strategic Goal by supporting research on global food security and food safety, as well as sustainable rural economies.