Midwest Grape Tissue-Culture and Virus-Testing Laboratory, Center for Grapevine Biotechnology, Missouri State University
The grape and wine industries in the Midwest region (known in the NCPN as the ‘heartland’ grape region) are experiencing rapid expansion and contribute significantly to the growth of regional agriculture and economy. The heartland region relies mainly on American hybrid grape cultivars because it is not profitable and environmentally sustainable to grow V. vinifera grape cultivars. Norton is becoming an iconic red wine grape in the heartland and eastern region. There is an increasing demand for more Norton vines and other American hybrid grapes for planting new vineyards.
Severe viral diseases have recently emerged in commercial vineyards and pose a threat to the grape and wine industries in heartland states Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana. Recent discovery of a grapevine DNA virus that is associated with the vein clearing and vine decline disease creates additional threat. The virus-infected vines lose vigor and bear little or no fruits. The only solution to the virus-infected vineyards is to remove infected vines and replant the entire vineyard with clean stock. To establish a vineyard with healthy, vigorous and virus-tested vines should become a common practice. A vineyard that is sanitary from the beginning has a sustainable economic benefit to the growers and a long-lasting environmental impact.
American hybrid grape cultivars require special culturing conditions for propagating clean vines from shoot tips after they are treated with thermotherapy. They normally contain high levels of phenolics. The success rate of acquiring these virus-free vines through the thermal therapy and shoot-tip tissue culture is lower than that of obtaining V. vinifera-derived vines. Optimization of tissue culture medium composition and culturing procedure is needed for propagating these cultivars.
The Midwest Grape Tissue-Culture and Virus-Testing Laboratory (The Laboratory) in the Center for Grapevine Biotechnology, Missouri State University, is to meet the special needs of the Midwest grape and wine industries by sustaining a foundation block of clean grapevines. The Laboratory generates, maintain, and deliver clean grape varieties that are suitable for the Midwest regions. The Laboratory has produced mother vines of Norton, Chambourcin, Chardonel, Vignoles, Vidal Blanc, Cayuga White, Traminette and tested the mother vines for fourteen grapevine viruses. These mother vines are clean of the 14 tested viruses. The Laboratory maintains the foundation block of seven virus-tested American hybrid grape cultivars and regularly inspects the virus status in the foundation block. It provides virus-testing services and virus-tested bud woods as well as conducts research and outreach programs for managing grapevine virus diseases.