Understanding and manipulating small signalling molecules to affect the yield/flavour (‘quality’) nexus
To determine if small signalling molecules such as plant growth regulators (PGRs) can be used to control the accumulation of flavour and aroma compounds and manipulate the timing of ripening and harvest.
The research addresses berry development, which is only partially understood and builds on previous projects aimed at better understanding berry metabolism with the aim of manipulating ripening towards beneficial endpoints, in terms of flavour profile and sugar accumulation. Further, it seeks to determine which PGR treatments can alter flavour/aroma compound production and how this is achieved.
It is recognised that advancing ripening may not be the first priority in many regional areas, given that hastening of ripening and compression of harvest is occurring due to warmer growing seasons. Compounds such as those that can delay ripening, will be of primary interest among the target compounds to be investigated.
The plan is to experiment with various treatments including some novel PGRs, to determine the most effective treatment, PGRs and timing for their impact on berry development and ripening. Standard measurements (sugar, acid, berry size, colour etc) plus GC-MS and LC-MS methods will be applied to measure key metabolites. The project will monitor the expression of key genes as a rapid way to identify likely treatment effects for further investigation and will also utilise the transgenic plants developed through earlier projects.
The project seeks to provide opportunities to better manage the yield/wine ‘quality’ relationship by understanding the control of berry ripening and developing strategies to manipulate ripening in the vineyard to produce higher value grapes without compromising yield. The ability to control the timing of berry ripening and harvest can result in improved fruit, and therefore wine composition resulting in higher value products.