B.S., Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences, Hungary
Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of Missouri
Grapevine is the most important deciduous fruit crop in terms of product quantity and value. Viticulture has a great economic potential as it generates high value-added products such as wine, juice, jellies, raisins and table grapes. Furthermore, wine is an important part of the human diet, because of its health-promoting phytochemicals, primarily bioactive polyphenols, and because it holds an esteemed place in most European and New World cultures. The viticulture industry relies predominantly on a single grape species, Vitis vinifera, which lacks biological resistance to a range of devastating fungal and oomycete diseases. Consequently, viticulturists have to apply fungicides to produce healthy fruit and to achieve desired yields. Disease control measures are costly and several essential fungicides are detrimental to the environment and/or pose a risk to human health.
The most promising approach towards sustainable disease control in grape cultivation is the exploitation of the innate disease resistance of wild grapevines. The primary goal of our research is the identification and cloning of defense genes from wild North American grapevines. Such genes will enable us to develop disease-resistant varieties of the cultivated grape (Vitis vinifera), as well as to improve the quality of native and hybrid grapevines that are currently used in the grape and wine industry.