Exploring the Molecular Basis of Microbial Wine-Terroir: From Deep Soil Horizons to Grapevines and Wines

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesisResearch

  • Alex Gobbi
Microbes are crucial in each stage of the wine production process. The correlation between microbes and geography, incorporated in the notion of terroir in wine, can be associated to the unique impact the microbial community can have on wine taste and flavour. Applying Next Generation Sequencing technology and in particular meta-barcoding, we revealed the dynamics and the composition of different microbiomes related with the wine-milieu.

During this 3-years long microbiological journey, we extended the concept of the microbial terroir on a global scale, sequencing soil-DNA from a hundred of vineyards worldwide in four continents. This biogeographical correlation exists at different scales; between different wine-regions in the same country and between fields within the same region. We revealed unique biomarkers in remote volcanic vineyards in Azores and temperature-driven microbial gradients from Bizkaia to Ribera Del Duero, passing from La Rioja, in Spain. We discriminated the microbial communities between closely related vineyards in Pfalz, Germany, an area famous for the production of Riesling. Further, we characterized the microbiota of Danish vineyards, young-winemaker country, within the regions of Zealand and Funen.

Throughout several fruitful industrial and academic collaborations, we improved the existing DNA extraction methods for analysing the microbes in deep-soil cores taken within vineyards, by testing DNA-enhancer such as G2. Hence, with this new protocol, we characterize the vertical stratification of the microbial community associated with different types of soil in three countries (Spain, Australia and Denmark). In another collaborative work, we characterize the inner-mycobiome of grapevine trunks, looking at the impacts of plant-fungal-disease such as Esca and different fungicide treatments. At the same time, we also characterize the microbial community resident on the phyllosphere and its dependence on the grape cultivar.

Furthermore, by combining NGS and qPCR in a commercial vineyard of Western Cape, South Africa, we measured the dynamics of the leaves’ microbiota during the complete growing season. Therefore, we investigated the impact of two different fungicide treatments: a traditional copper spray compared with the application of Lactobacillus plantarum MW-1 as a biocontrol agent.

All of these contributions to the existing scientific literature will be valuable for microbial ecologist interested in the agricultural part of the winemaking industry. This information will also help the winemakers, raising awareness on biodiversity and the importance it can have within the modern wine industry.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAarhus Universitet
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Termination date: 08.05.2019

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