Leah Brand and Julie Curless spent their part of their summer in the vineyards.
As part of a National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program (NSF-PGRP) grant, they sampled grapevines at E.J. Gallo Winery in California’s Central Valley.
Dr. Laszlo Kovacs, professor of biology, is a co-investigator on the project, entitled “Adapting Perennial Crops for Climate Change: Graft-transmissible effects of rootstocks on grapevine shoots.”
He and his collaborators are trying to find ways keep horticultural plants productive under environmental conditions that are increasingly less favorable to them.
“Our research investigates how grafting plants — in this case grapes — on rootstocks can be used to mitigate the stressful effects of climate change on agricultural crops,” Kovacs said.
As part of the NSF grant, Kovacs gets to work students, as well as commercial vineyards. Both E.J. Gallo Winery and the NSF team benefit from the partnership.
“Students are exposed to both cutting-edge science and commercial operations at the same time,” Kovacs said. “They gain an experience at the intersection of science and its application in plant production.”
Brand and Curless sampled grapes to see how they were growing the horticultural technique of grafting influenced the expression of genes in leaves and berries.