The largest genetic analysis of grapevine varieties challenges preconceptions

The largest genetic analysis of grapevine varieties challenges preconceptions

 Researchers answer the long-standing issue of how, when and where wine and table grapevines were domesticated through the biggest genetic study of grapevine types ever conducted, which included samples from previously unrecorded specimens in private collections.

 Despite the fact that wine and grapes play a significant societal role, it has been challenging to determine when and where table grapevines were tamed. This is primarily due to the lack of comprehensive DNA sequencing studies on grapevine types. As a consequence, there are a number of established theories in the literature that are still speculative. For instance, scientists once believed that the domestication of the cultivated wine grapevine (Vitis vinifera), from which all wine types descended, occurred in Western Asia before the development of cultivation. They also believed that wine grapevines were grown first, then table fruit grapevines. New research by Yang Dong and co-workers challenge both theories. According to their study, there were two grapevine domestication events based on the extensive genetic data they examined.

 The new genetic evidence shows that the grapevine was domesticated in two regions  not only in Caucasus, as previously thought — and 3,000 years earlier. According to the research, the second region is none other than the countries known in modern times as Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine. What is even more impressive is that, while the domesticated vine in the Caucasus mainly stayed in the region that’s known today as Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan. The domesticated vines in the Levant made their way in different directions, most importantly toward Europe and through a series of accidental cross-breeding with wild vines, giving rise to the Vitis Vinifera grown today in Europe.

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Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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