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Rootstock genetics and improvement: tolerance to abiotic stress



The major objective of this project is to develop tools for selecting and breeding grapevine rootstocks with better resilience to abiotic stress.


Heat, drought and salinity are abiotic stressors faced by many Australian grapegrowers. Climate modelling for southern Australia suggests that these stressors are likely to increase in the coming decades.

Current management practices involve increasing irrigation to mitigate these stresses, which may not always be possible due to the limited availability or quality of water resources.

It is a priority of the Australian wine sector to have better rootstocks available with increased water use efficiency and salinity tolerance suited to Australian conditions, together with resistance to root pests.

Research approach

This project will use gene identification technologies and functional characterisation (supported by project CSA 1701-1.7) and marker assisted breeding, together with advanced phenotypic screening methods using the state-of-the-art ‘Plant Accelerator’, to develop better rootstocks with enduring resistance to salt, heat and drought.

Sector benefits

The project will lead to the production of better rootstocks that are fit for Australian conditions. It will produce material that is easy to propagate and graft, fulfilling the requirements of nurseries and will benefit grapegrowers through the production of reliable, robust planting material that contributes to the production of grapes that meet the requirements of wine companies with regard to wine composition.