BioSNTR Faculty Members Partner in $4.6 million NSF Grant on Grapevine Root System Project

Posted on: October 12, 2016   |   Categories: Announcements, News & Updates

$4.6 Million NSF Grant Will Help Missouri-Led Team Study Grafting as a Way to Adapt Crops to Climate Change

Press Release by Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS (Oct. 5, 2016) — Saint Louis University has been awarded a $4.6 million grant by the National Science Foundation to lead a Missouri-based team of researchers in understanding how root systems of grapevines affect the vine’s stems, leaves and fruits — the parts of perennial plants used most commonly in food production.

The five-year project will be led by Saint Louis University professor, Allison Miller, Ph.D. Miller, an evolutionary biologist specializing in perennial plant evolution and its applications to sustainable agriculture. Miller will be joined on the project by co-principal investigators based at the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, South Dakota State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Natural plant biodiversity is critical for adapting contemporary crops like grapevines to changing climate conditions. Grapevines around the world are grafted plants — when two parts of separate plants are joined. The domesticated European grapevine used in commercial wine production is grafted onto native North American root systems that resist pests, pathogens and can withstand challenging climates. These North American rootstocks can be used to subtly modify features of the plant’s stems, leaves and fruits. The project will help propel our ability to use rootstocks to improve perennial crops and adapt them for changing climates.

The co-principal investigators on the project include: Dan Chitwood, Ph.D., Danforth Plant Science Center; Laszlo Kovacs, Ph.D., Department of Biology, Missouri State University; Misha Kwasniewski, Ph.D., Grape and Wine Institute at the University of Missouri, Columbia; Jason Londo, Ph.D., United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service-Grape Genetics Research Unit; Anne Fennell, Ph.D., and Qin Ma, Ph.D., Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science and BioSNTR at South Dakota State University. Peter Cousins, with E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, California, and Andrew Wyatt, Ph.D., with the Department of Horticulture at the Missouri Botanical Garden, are serving as senior consultants on the project, which is currently funded through 2021.

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