The Wine2030 research network provides funding for a wide range of wine-related research. This article summarises two very different and ground-breaking research projects.
Addressing wine industry challenges: Fine-tuning irrigation scheduling using Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy
Dr Roberta De Bei and Dr Sigfredo Fuentes
Water scarcity will continue to be an issue in Australia in a future climate change scenario. Improving water use efficiency by grapevines by developing new irrigation techniques and by improving irrigation scheduling will help the wine industry to face the issues of water shortage and climactic anomalies (heat waves). Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has proven to be effective in obtaining stem water potential (Ψs) measurements for grapevines, which is regarded as one of the most integrative measures of the whole-plant water status according to soil-plant-atmosphere conditions (De Bei et al. 2011). In this project Dr De Bei and Dr Fuentes will implement this technique to generate and make available site-specific calibration curves of NIR / Ψs to be used by the wine industry for precision irrigation. Furthermore, critical thresholds to fine tune irrigation scheduling will be obtained relying on vine physiology (water potential and NIR) rather than indirect methods, such as soil moisture or weather data.
Testing of this new technique will be implemented as part of the Vineyard of the Future initiative from the University of Adelaide, which will be a fully integrated monitored and logged vineyard dedicated as a test-bed for innovations in climate change adaptation.
Developing a novel method for RNA and DNA extraction from wines and its application to the wine industry
Dr Nuredin Habili
Reports on the detection of DNA in bottled wines have been emerging since 2000. However, those on the detection of virus RNA [RNA is the same as DNA with an extra oxygen in its structure and is mostly present in viruses (makes up the genes of viruses)] and viroids in wines were lacking. Our preliminary research showed that DNA molecules of up to 5000 bp could be detected in wine nucleic acid extracts using an extraction method developed in our laboratory. A segment of the coat protein gene of a grapevine virus and partial sequences of two viroids were also detected. One of these viroids is quarantined in Australia and it may cause biosecurity concern by certain countries which import our wines. This is only when/if the viroid RNA in the wine proves to be infectious.
DNA extracted from wines has the potential to address the following:
- Variety identification, either as single or as blend using DNA fingerprinting.
- Detection of micro organisms associated with spoilage. This includes detecting diffuse powdery mildew, which adversely affects wine quality.
- Detecting GMO wines/yeasts.