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Cell death in grape berries

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Vineyard fluorescence

The quality of your wine can be affected by cell death in grape berries. The affects are two-fold: 1) cell death leads to a higher concentration of sugar and alcohol levels because of water loss; and 2) a greater contribution to flavour. Scientists at the University of Adelaide are exploring physiological causes of cell death that will lead to a greater understanding of how this occurs in grape berries.

Zeyu Xiao is a PhD candidate at the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, University of Adelaide, and is testing the hypothesis that cell death is triggered by anoxic stress within the berries during ripening.

To test this hypothesis, Zeyu is using oxygen microsensors from Unisense to measure the oxygen concentration inside the berries as well as whole berry respiration changes using the Unisense microrespiration system. The measurements are being performed on berries from various stress treatments in the vineyard throughout berry development.


Microrespiration System

The Unisense Oxygen Microsensors were used to measure oxygen concentration inside grape berries. Image source: Zeyu Xiao.


Respiration Vineyard

The respiration rates of grapes can be measured with the Unisense MicroRespiration system. Image source: Zeyu Xiao


Grape Oxygen Concentration

Oxygen profile of a post-veraison grape shows oxygen concentration decreases from the surface towards centre of the berry. X-axis is the depth from berry surface to berry centre. y-axis is oxygen concentration. Background image shows vital stained longitudinal section of grape berry. The intense green fluorescent signal indicates vital cells. Red arrow indicates the approximate position trace of the oxygen sensor inside the berry. Image source: Zeyu Xiao.



The research is ongoing and further results will increase our understanding of what causes cell death.

Zeyu Xiao is supervised by Professor Steve Tyerman, Associate Professor Victor Sadras and Dr Suzy Rogiers. This research is being undertaken at ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Plant Research Centre, The University of Adelaide.


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