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Germplasm solutions focus of research

By Wednesday 14 February 2024March 19th, 2024No Comments

University of Adelaide PhD candidate Jacob Long is the recipient of Wine Australia’s Dr Tony Jordan OAM Award 2024 for his research to investigate novel germplasm solutions suited to Australia’s changing climate.

Mr Long’s research will utilise new breeding techniques, such as gene-editing, to investigate increased anthocyanin production in red-skinned grape cultivars, which can increase grape and wine quality in warmer climates.

The project will also examine the flavour, quality and consumer acceptance of wines derived from first-generation mildew resistant cultivars from the grapevine breeding program at the CSIRO.

Mr Long said the research – to be conducted with University of Adelaide and CSIRO and supported by this scholarship from Wine Australia – will provide new knowledge of the use and acceptance of new breeding technologies, as well as how to develop grapevine varieties that are fit for purpose and resilient towards a changing climate.

“My research intends to support and promote the Australian grape and wine community’s shift towards becoming a more sustainable sector and to support its adaptation to retain our high-quality standing in the market amidst continual environmental challenges,” Mr Long said.

“Using new breeding techniques will potentially enable winegrapes to be designed for specific wine styles to suit consumer desires – for example, reduced tannins – while allowing the newly developed cultivars to retain the status of a clone of the original variety.

“Importantly, due to the new breeding techniques utilised, cultivars produced through the project may not be considered Genetically Modified Organisms according to the Australian regulator.

“Furthermore, assessing the sensory profiles and consumer acceptance of wines derived from both DNA-free gene-editing techniques and mildew-resistant varietals against commercially available control vines will help support the sector’s decision-making around choosing to plant these varieties.”

Named in honour of the late Dr Tony Jordan OAM, the award recognises the most outstanding applicant of Wine Australia’s annual top-up scholarships for PhD and Masters by Research students towards research for the Australian wine sector and provides additional funding to take the annual stipend up to $40,000.

Mr Long said, “I am extremely honoured to receive the Dr Tony Jordan Memorial Award and I sincerely thank Wine Australia and the selection panel for awarding me this prestigious scholarship.

“It increases my motivation to ensure my research will benefit the Australian wine sector in the future.”

Wine Australia General Manager Research and Innovation Dr Liz Waters said the knowledge gained through Mr Long’s research will support the sector’s ongoing efforts towards improved sustainability and profitability.

“Mr Long is taking a multifaceted approach to examining solutions to complex challenges facing the sector,” Dr Waters said.

“We’re delighted to support this work and are excited to see the outcomes.

“Congratulations to Mr Long and to all of the recipients of our scholarships this year.

“We received many outstanding applications from universities around Australia for projects starting this year.

“The successful applicants proposed some innovative projects across a range of topics, and we look forward to following their work as it progresses.”

Seven candidates were successful in attaining a Wine Australia top-up scholarship in 2024 and are undertaking their studies at the University of Adelaide, Charles Sturt University, University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology.

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