Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization

Research Article

Genetic characterization and relationships of traditional grape cultivars from Transcaucasia and Anatolia

José F. Vouillamoza1 c1, Patrick E. McGoverna2, Ali Ergula3, Gökhan Söylemezoğlua4, Giorgi Tevzadzea5, Carole P. Mereditha6 and M. Stella Grandoa1

a1 Istituto Agrario di San Michele all'Adige, Italy

a2 Anthropology Museum, Applied Science Center for Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, USA

a3 Institute of Biotechnology, Ankara University, 06500 Beşevler-Ankara, Turkey

a4 Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Horticulture, Ankara University, 06110 Dışkapı-Ankara, Turkey

a5 Georgian Wine and Spirit, Tbilisi, Georgia

a6 Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, Davis, USA


We present here the first large-scale genetic characterization of grape cultivars from Transcaucasia and Anatolia. These regions where wild grapes still grow in nature have been cultivating wine and table grapes for thousands of years and are considered the cradles of viticulture. Using 12 nuclear microsatellite markers, we genotyped 116 accessions of traditional grape cultivars from Armenia, Georgia and Turkey and we detected 17 identical genotypes and six homonymy cases, mainly within each national germplasm. Neighbour-joining analysis of genetic distance showed that each germplasm could have multiple origins and although they are now separated, they might have some common ancestors. In addition, four varieties from Western Europe included as outgroups turned out to be more related to Georgian cultivars than other germplasms, suggesting a possible ancient origin in Georgia. This work represents a first step towards germplasm management of this rich ampelographic heritage.

(Received September 13 2005)

(Accepted January 20 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: University of Neuchâtel, National Centre of Competence in Research ‘Plant Survival’, Rue Emile Argand 11, CH-2007 Neuchâtel, Switzerland. E-mail: