Genealogy of wine grape cultivars: "Pinot" is related to "Syrah"

Heredity (Edinb). 2006 Aug;97(2):102-10. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800842. Epub 2006 May 24.


Since the domestication of wild grapes ca 6000 years ago, numerous cultivars have been generated by spontaneous or deliberate crosses, and up to 10 000 are still in existence today. Just as in human paternity analysis, DNA typing can reveal unexpected parentage of grape cultivars. In this study, we have analysed 89 grape cultivars with 60 microsatellite markers in order to accurately calculate the identity-by-descent (IBD) and relatedness (r) coefficients among six putatively related cultivars from France ("Pinot", "Syrah" and "Dureza") and northern Italy ("Teroldego", "Lagrein" and "Marzemino"). Using a recently developed likelihood-based approach to analyse kinship in grapes, we provide the first evidence of a genetic link between grapes across the Alps: "Dureza" and "Teroldego" turn out to be full-siblings (FS). For the first time in grapevine genetics we were able to detect FS without knowing one of the parents and identify unexpected second-degree relatives. We reconstructed the most likely pedigree that revealed a third-degree relationship between the worldwide-cultivated "Pinot" from Burgundy and "Syrah" from the Rhone Valley. Our finding was totally unsuspected by classical ampelography and it challenges the commonly assumed independent origins of these grape cultivars. Our results and this new approach in grape genetics will (a) help grape breeders to avoid choosing closely related varieties for new crosses, (b) provide pedigrees of cultivars in order to detect inheritance of disease-resistance genes and (c) open the way for future discoveries of first- and second-degree relationships between grape cultivars in order to better understand viticultural migrations.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Genealogy and Heraldry*
  • Genome, Plant
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Medieval
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Pedigree
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Vitis / genetics*
  • Wine / analysis*
  • Wine / history