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Scientists in Portugal have been investigating important molecular and biochemical changes that occur when grapes are growing to find out how they affect wine aroma.
Scientists in Portugal have been investigating important molecular and biochemical changes thatoccur when grapes are growing to find out how they affect wine aroma. In a study recentlypublished in PLOS ONE, the scientists performed genetic analysis combined with metabolicprofiling data collected using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) to highlight keymarkers.1
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is one of the most widely cultivated fruit crops worldwide. The researchgroup selected three Portuguese elite cultivars as the model for their study — Trincadeira,Aragones (Tempranillo in Spain) and Touriga Nacional.
Patricia Agudelo-Romero, lead author of the study, told The Column that lesser known cultivarswere chosen that offered the possibility of developing wines with different characteristics, togain a competitive advantage in the global market. The diversity of the varieties used producedconsistent data defining specific markers.
A multi-faceted approach was taken to the analysis of the samples collected. Geneticanalysis determined the effect of gene expression on the ripening of the grapes using reversetranscription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR). This technique directly relates gene expressionto environmental conditions. This data was linked to metabolomic profiling data. Volatile aromacomponents of wine samples were profiled by headspace solid-phase microextraction(SPME) coupled to gas chromatography with electron impact ionization–quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC–EI–MS). Profiling was performed bygas chromatography coupled to electron impact ionization–time-offlightmass spectrometry (GC–EI–TOF-MS).
The results of the study showed a distinct metabolic profile ofcompounds that were produced before and after ripening inaddition to distinctive gene expression profiles. According toAgudelo-Romero: “The integration of data obtained throughtranscriptomics and metabolomics approaches may provideimportant information to be used in viticultural managementand will eventually be valuable to future grapevine breedingprogrammes.”
1. P. Agudelo-Romero et al, PLOS ONE, 8(4) e60422 (2013).