RESEARCH-PGR: Adapting Perennial Crops for Climate Change: Graft Transmissible Effects of Rootstocks on Grapevine Shoots

  • Miller, Allison (PI)
  • Fennell, Anne A. (CoPI)
  • Chitwood, Daniel (CoPI)
  • Londo, Jason J.P. (CoPI)
  • Kwasniewski, MishaT (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


PI: Allison Miller (Saint Louis University)

CoPIs: Daniel Chitwood (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center), Anne Fennell (South Dakota State University), Jason Londo (USDA-ARS/ Geneva, NY); Laszlo Kovacs (Missouri State University-Springfield), and Misha Kwasniewski (University of Missouri-Columbia);

Senior Personnel: Qin Ma (South Dakota State University), Andrew Wyatt (Missouri Botanical Garden), and Peter Cousins (Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery, Modesto, CA).

How do long-lived plants cope with a shifting climate, over seasons, and from year to year? What are the mechanisms that enable perennial plants to adjust to environmental changes, and how does the belowground part of the plant contribute to responses at a whole plant level? In perennial woody crops, including grapevine and most fruit and nut trees, grafting is a surgical enhancement that splices together the stem of the shoot system (scion) with the stem of the root system (rootstock), often joining different genotypes or species into a single plant. Grafting enables the development, clonal propagation, and distribution of perennial crops into new and diverse environments by separating breeding efforts for shoots and roots. This project uses grafted grapevines and genomics to produce a systems-level understanding of how rootstocks modify scion phenotype and plasticity. Results have implications for the national and global grape industry, and woody crops in general, by advancing understanding of the genomic basis and genetic architecture of the influence of the root system on shoot system phenotype. Integrated education and outreach include training post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate researchers in rural and urban locations in Missouri and South Dakota, bolstered by a strong collaborative relationship with the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit and industrial partner Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery. Related outreach activities addressing sustainable agriculture, crop evolution, and biodiversity are planned at the Missouri Botanical Garden and U.S. Botanical Garden.

Clonally propagated, grafted crop species provide the optimal study system for understanding the ability of the root system to modulate shoot system phenotypes across variable climates. Grapevine is an exceptional model for this work with a sequenced and annotated V. vinifera reference genome, reference transcriptomes for wild grapevine species, bioinformatic pipelines for SNP discovery and transcriptome analyses, high-throughput phenotyping methods, and research and production vineyards in diverse environments. This project focuses on root and shoot interactions in grapevine leveraging: 1) an existing common garden research vineyard in Missouri, to analyze inter-annual phenotypic variation in a common scion growing ungrafted and also grafted to three different rootstocks; 2) commercial vineyards across disparate environments of California, to assay environmental influences on root-shoot communication; 3) a new segregating rootstock mapping population replicated in four climatic zones and grafted with a common scion, to characterize genotype x environment interactions of scion phenotypes modulated by the root; and 4) academic and industry partnerships, to conduct extensive interdisciplinary training and outreach. Comprehensive phenotypic data (RNAseq, physiological, metabolic, and morphological) will be generated. Given increasing interest in perennial crops as important components of sustainable agriculture, this project offers a valuable in-depth look at genetic and environmental bases of phenotypic variation in in long-lived plants, a fundamental challenge in biology with important applications in crop improvement. Data generated in this project will provide an unprecedented opportunity to produce genetic x environment interaction models and systems biology analysis of the genetic contribution of rootstocks to scion phenotypes. All data will be made accessible to the public through long-term repositories.

Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $4,647,589.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.