Uncovering the Mystery of the Domestication of Grapes

Professor Brandon Gaut, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation and faculty member in Ecology and Environmental Biology, and UC Davis Professor Dario Cantu, lead a study shedding light on grapes, one of mankind’s most economically important crops. The study suggests that humans have been managing grapes for around 22,000 years, much longer than previously thought and well before the time they were domesticated as a crop. During domestication, grapes have had key genes altered, particularly genes relating to sugar production. The team also found that the selective propagation of grape cultivation has resulted in more deleterious mutations than found in wild grapes. The results shed light on human transition to plant cultivation, and may help famers breed more fit grape crops.