Gene editing offers a new tool for wine grape growers, who have for decades grappled with troublesome pests, high pesticide use, and technical problems when using hybrids and conventional breeding. Now, with CRISPR, a range of options is opened such as vines resistant to pests and diseases (which do not require the use of pesticides), greater nutritional value and even that do not produce hangovers.
CRISPR, the most promising gene editing technology currently available, involves injecting an organism …. with a chemical that contains millions of tiny particles. Each particle consists of a guide molecule to point in the right direction, an enzyme (protein) to edit and remove the target DNA, and a healthy DNA fragment to replace the DNA to be removed.
Introducing a new gene into an existing grape simply changes one characteristic, while the wine variety remains the same. This process can greatly aid marketing efforts in an industry where sales are primarily dependent on variety, even more than quality. Given the industry’s devotion to tradition, it can also make the idea of genetic modification easier to sell to winegrowers and growers.
Gene editing technology has already shown great promise in several isolated studies involving wine grapes. In the most recent example, researchers at Rutgers University successfully used the CRISPR / Cas9 technique in 2019 to develop mildew resistance in Chardonnay.
[Editor’s note: this post was originally published in Spanish and has been translated and edited for clarity.]