Screening for potentially novel Pinotage clones generated through irradiance mutagenesis

by | Feb 28, 2019 | South Africa Wine Scan

Researcher: Phyllis Burger

New Winetech funded project 2019 – The aim of this project is to screen and phenotype new Pinotage plants that were generated in a pilot study that focused on developing methods to induce mutations. The intention is that the mutations could lead to potentially novel clones.

In the pilot study, irradiance doses of buds were optimised and associated methods were successfully applied to regenerate viable plantlets. Three clones of Pinotage were used and a significant population of plantlets were yielded. They now need to be further screened for vegetative and reproductive traits that could eventually lead to identification and development of new ‘Pinotage’ clones.

A phased approach will be followed where the initial screening will occur in tunnels or greenhouses to identify a smaller subset with desirable traits that will eventually be transplanted to the field plot for more comprehensive phenotyping. There is high potential for new clones with specific commercially important traits however, it is not a given that researchers will discover such clones.

Clones (and sometimes new cultivars) normally arise through natural mutations and there are numerous examples, especially in very old cultivars that were widely grown in diverse conditions. Obvious pronounced differences (i.e. berry colour and different leaf shape) are usually regarded as new cultivars, while more subtle variations in traits (i.e. looser clusters or earlier ripening) are regarded as clones. Relatively young cultivars, such as ‘Pinotage’ typically have fewer clones identified, since it has not been as widely and extensively planted under varying conditions to allow for natural mutations to occur and be spotted or selected.

Currently, only a few commercial clones of Pinotage exist and given the growing importance of the cultivar and its more widespread plantings, a more diverse set of clones to choose from is desirable.

Image: Shutterstock

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