The Chemistry College of the University of Uruguay, the Institute of Biological Research Clemente Estable IIBCE and the National Institute for Agricultural and Cattle Research, INIA Las Brujas, committed themselves to unveil the sequence of the genome of Tannat, the grape variety typical of the wines of Uruguay, two years ago. It certainly constitutes a symbol of Uruguay's country brand, which had been defined as emblematic of Uruguayan wines in 2008 in the Strategic Plan for the Wine Cluster within PACC (Competitiveness Program in Support of Clusters and Productive Chain).
In a note published last week at the weekly magazine Búsqueda, and reproduced on the site of the UdelaR (University of the Republic) Francisco Carrau, PhD in Chemistry and professor of Oenology in the Chemistry College of UdelaR stated that "these early advances open up large areas of research for the production and improvement in the quality of Tannat."
"We want to appropriate a heritage that is ours and we want to defend it. One way to do it is to identify it all, it is a sort of a copyright," said Carrau. Researchers are able to publish the information of the genome obtained, as decided by an European group which obtained the Pinot Noir genome in 2007, or keep it secret as has happened with other varieties.
"Whether we make it public or not is a decision that we will have to take. It does not mean that we will leave it open to any research laboratory, but if the industry of Uruguay does not support it or if it were not interested in the topic, we will not keep it closed in a bookshelf either. The winery owners sould agree to grant the economic support to develop it and not publish it. This discussion has not started yet," added the scientist.
For this reason, the introduction that will take place on Tuesday of the first results is aimed at the industry, for them to know what has been done and propose to them to work with the information obtained. The genome is only part of the story: the beginning. The next step is to study what does it express and what does not, to better understand the impact of genes on the production process.
The investigators who worked on the research, called Group I+D (R&D) of the CSIC (Sectoral Commission for Scientific Research), was composed by Professors Eduardo Dellacassa, Eduardo Boido and Francisco Carrau (Department of Enology, Chemistry College), Dr. Carina Gaggero (IIBCE) and the Agronomists Edgardo Disegna and Andrés Coniberti (INIA, Las Brujas).
The conference to be held tomorrow has the support of: INAVI, Wines of Uruguay, AUDEBIO and CSIC Groups I+D.
More information (in Spanish) about this topic here »
Sources: Búsqueda / UdelaR