Media Release – Wine Science Award to Sequence Rootstock Genome

Article: $22,000 wine science award to sequence rootstock genome

The genetic make-up of a key grapevine rootstock will be mapped after Dr Matthew Gilliham won a national $22,000 wine science award.

This research will help identify genetic markers for traits such as drought, salinity, root pathogen and acid soil tolerance that could accelerate rootstock breeding programs.

Dr Gilliham, a research scientist at The University of Adelaide and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, won the Viticulture & Oenology 2012 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Sponsored by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), the $22,000 award allows Dr Gilliham to draft the first sequence of a rootstock genome.

Over the next 12 months, Dr Gilliham will compare the 140-Ruggeri rootstock’s genetic sequence, with the genome of the common grapevine Vitis Vinifera* (see below).

It is hoped that sequencing will provide the important first steps in linking useful traits to genes, an approach that will accelerate breeding for key rootstock attributes and help support a competitive Australian wine sector.

‘GWRDC is pleased to sponsor young scientists as part of our investment in research, development and innovation in the Australia wine sector on behalf of our three key stakeholders: the Wine Grape Growers Australia, Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and the Australian Government’, said Mr Neil Fisher, Executive Director of GWRDC.

‘We congratulate Matthew on winning this award and we look forward to his continuing contribution to excellence in the Australia wine sector’, Mr Fisher said.

* About rootstocks

Grafted vines have been widely used in Australia for decades. They consist of a scion – the fruiting part of the vine, that is grafted to a stock – the rooted part of the vine (hence therootstock).

Scions are drawn from the species Vitis Vinifera and rootstocks are drawn from American species of the Vitisgenus.

Rootstocks are an important asset to Australian viticulture and 140 Ruggeri is one of the most commonly planted in Australia.


GWRDC invests in and directs research, development and extension (RD&E) along the whole value chain ‘from vine to glass’ to support a competitive Australian wine sector.

We collaborate with our key stakeholders to coordinate and direct our investments to best address the sector’s RD&E priorities. GWRDC is funded by grapegrowers and winemakers, who pay levies on the annual winegrape harvest, and the Australian Government, which provides matching funds.

For further information:
Neil Fisher, Executive Director, 08 8273 0500