Grain grapes used in wine production, located in archaeological sites throughout Europe, are tested genetically and tell a story of continuity from ancient Rome to this very day. Apparently some wine drunk of Rome and that was quaffed by the Middle Ages and in modern times was made with similar grape varieties to those used today. Such is the continuation of the use of grape vines through ages.
The purpose of the research is to understand the ancestors of winemaking in France, which has disturbed people for many years. Along with the revealing history behind grape varieties, it also provides data showing that the wine industry may be weak due to climate change.
The study involves a large group of researchers from many European countries, including Britain, Denmark, France, and Germany. It was funded by a Danish and a French research agency. Researchers sought to understand the genes of ancient grapes. Their findings were published in the academic journal Nature Plants.
Comparing old DNA grapes with new
Researchers use a large database containing information on the genome of many modern grapes, used in winemaking. These are compared to genetics of grape grains found in a number of archeological sites. Technology reports say & # 39; the researchers have tested and compiled 28 archeological seeds from French sites dating back to the Iron Age, Roman period, and medieval times & # 39; . In the past DNA analysis was used to investigate ancestral grapes grown in modern vineyards. However, according to Decanter.com & # 39; some blankets in family jig-saw of modern-day varieties & # 39 ;.
Waterlogged Roman grapes such as these were tested on genetically investigating grape varieties in the past. Credit: L. Bouby, CNRS / ISEM
European researchers working separately but collaborating use the same DNA methods used to identify ancestors of modern humans. Phys.org reports that experts acquire a "genetic connection between bones from different archaeological sites".
Then by comparing genomes, they can establish the relationship between ancient seeds and modern varieties of grapes.
Researchers discovered that archaeological examples are closely related to the western European cultivars used for today's winemaking according to Nature Plants. The multidiscipline team finds genetic traces that indicate that the Romans and later grapes are related. From bones, some & # 39; 18 unique genetic signatures, including a range of genetically identical seeds from two Roman sites & # 39; were established according to Phys.org.
The two Roman sites are 400 miles (600km) millennia. They are also very interesting in relation to the many grapes grown in the French Alpine vineyards. It implies a very good continuity in the spread of grapes in Western Europe from the days of Rome. This is largely due to the skills of winemakers with asexual reproduction and the use of wine cuttings, which maintain the genetic signature of the grapes.
Bacchus, Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility by Peter Paul Rubens. ( Public Domain )
The latest research means it is possible to identify connections between Roman and modern wines. Because of the writings of classical authors such as Pliny the Elder we know the names of many Roman wines. Said Dr. Jazmín Ramos-Madrigal, one of the co-authors of the study "Today we have the opportunity to use genetics to find out what is growing in Roman vineyards," reports Technology News.
Dr. Nathan Wales, of the University of York, is one of the research teams, the Syrah-Mondeuse Blanche family and the Pinot-Savagnin & # 39; can track their ancestors back to Roman vineyards, according to Phys.org. This means that people living in the Roman Empire make wine just like us and are happy too. However, the likes seemed to change and some famous grapes in the past are no longer popular.
As the study found a relationship between Roman bones and modern grapes, they were not directly related. However, researchers have established a close genetic match between a medieval seed from a vineyard in Orleans (France) and the grape used for the production of Savagnin Blanc. It is a wine that is not very popular, but it still works and is often known as Traminer Weiss.
An ancient savagnin blanc seed seed was found to be directly related to the modern type. (19659015) CC BY-SA 4.0 )
The threat of global warming
The genetic inheritance of many modern wine grapes shows a great deal of continuity in the past. This means that there is a lack of genetic diversity and this can be a problem, and it will cause the dangers of winemaking in the future, especially if our climate is warming. Global warming and extreme weather events can have the real dangers of winemaking in the future because they can destroy the entire crop, and may lose the kinds of vine.
This study and others show the need to develop new strains of grapes that are more resilient. National Public Radio Zoë Migicovsky, a Canadian postdoctoral researcher, says studying alcoholic stability says that we need to 'embrace a bigger set of grapes'. Only this can help winemaking to survive but may come at an expense of losing loved tipples like Merlot and Pinot-Grigio.
Study is an important one, as it allows us to better understand the evolution of winemaking. It also shows how many Roman wine lovers love their favorite tipple. Research also indicates that there is a dangerous lack of genetic diversity in grapes and may leave them weak in environmental changes.
Top image: Sources of DNA grapes throughout Europe are connected to ancient Roman seeds. Source: Grecaud Paul / Adobe Stock
By Ed Whelan