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Bioprospecting Australia’s microbial genetic diversity



To develop new knowledge of wild wine microbiota and how it can be harnessed to achieve winemaking goals.


An important aspect of terroir, particularly where spontaneous fermentations are performed, is very likely to be related to differences in wine microbiota. Focused microbiological research has shown that both vineyards and spontaneous fermentations contain diverse mixtures of microbial species. However, lack of knowledge on the microbial species present is a major impediment to the exploitation of native microbial germplasm and spontaneous fermentation by the Australian wine sector.

Research approach

This project will leverage the analytical power of next generation genomic sequencing and high throughput screening, to advance current knowledge of wild wine microbiota and how they can be harnessed to achieve winemaking goals. The contribution of various species of fungi, yeasts and bacteria to wine fermentation and characteristics will be elucidated in vineyard-to-wine time course experiments.  Samples will be sourced from a number of Australian wine regions, highlighting for the first time both the temporal and geographic dynamics of microbial populations.

Sector benefits

The new knowledge generated will inform winemakers’ decisions on the applicability and usefulness of ‘wild’ wine microorganisms as critical driver of Australian regional terroir, and as a means for wineries to produce unique products with market differentiation.