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Origins and Domestication of the Grape

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Domestication is the most important genetic selection process driven by humans that changed wild forms into domesticated crops modifying morphological and genetic traits. The Vitis genus consists of about 50-60 species spread in the northern hemisphere, and grapes are used for the wine, juice and spirits ...

Domestication is the most important genetic selection process driven by humans that changed wild forms into domesticated crops modifying morphological and genetic traits. The Vitis genus consists of about 50-60 species spread in the northern hemisphere, and grapes are used for the wine, juice and spirits production. The grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) is the most economic important species of the genus. Cultivars are clonally propagated and conserved high level of heterozygosity, and the main difference between wild and domestic grapevine forms is the mating system. The domestication process involved dioecious wild populations of grapevine producing new hermaphrodite genotypes with larger and sweeter berries. The archaeological records suggest that the domestication process was started in the Near East from its wild progenitor but molecular data propose a putative involvement of wild populations in west Mediterranean locations.

Global climate change represents a growing challenge for European viticulture, accentuating stress by drought, soil salinity and alkalinity, but also novel pests and diseases. During domestication, humans have selected for high yield and rapid growth which led to the non-intentional loss of resilience factors. In light of this, it would be relevant to go back toVitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris, the ancestor of cultivated grapevine, to identify such factors and make them available for resilience breeding. The identified resilience factors can directly be implemented into breeding strategies targeted to prepare European viticulture for the challenges posed by global climate change. Moreover, there are several unanswered questions regarding where, when, and how domestication took place.

Phylogenetics can help to disentangle complicate domestication process by resolving sister relationships between domesticated cultivars and their wild relatives. For example, it has been demonstrated that genomic data combined with archaeological records help to reveal spatial and temporal patterns of domestication. Today, next-generation-sequencing technologies offer an unprecedented access to genetic data allowing the comparison of genome structure, the identification of genetic lineages and the documentation of gene introgression events from cultivars or other species.

This Research Topic aims to shed light on the origins and domestication of the grape. Descriptive studies will not be considered for review unless they are extended to provide meaningful insights into grapevine evolution and domestication. We welcome Original Research and other types of articles falling under, but not limited to:

- Phylogenetic, phylogeographic and phylogenomic analysis
- Evolutionary genomics
- Genetic and phenotypic evaluation of domesticated traits in wild grapevine genotypes
- Hybridization and introgression analysis
- Reconstruction of time frames and geographic locations of grape domestication
- Analysis of genetic and epigenetic relationships between domesticated and wild forms
- Models of domestication process


Keywords: Evolution, Genetic resources, Genomic, Vitis, Wild


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