Plant Cuttings

Black = white + grey(!?)

Image: Greek ceramic, ca. 490–480 BC, Louvre Museum.
Image: Greek ceramic, ca. 490–480 BC, Louvre Museum.

No, not messing with colours, but a reference to Silvia Vezzulli et al.’s work on Pinot blanc and Pinot gris wine grape cultivars. The team have discovered that the ‘white’ and ‘grey’ (which refer to their berry colours) cultivars arose independently as somatic mutations in the ancestral Pinot noir. Although somatic mutation is ‘a change in the genetic structure that is neither inherited nor passed to offspring’, such novelties are nevertheless highly prized – and economically important and valuable – because they can be perpetuated by vegetative propagation in plants, such as Vitis vinifera (the grape vine). As the Italy-based team conclude, ‘This proposed “Pinot-model” represents a breakthrough towards the full understanding of the mechanisms behind the formation of white, grey, red, and pink grape cultivars, and eventually of their specific enological aptitude’. And some more wine-related good news: resveratrol (3,5,4’-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene), found in the skin of red grapes and in other fruits, and which has been associated with many beneficial health effects in humans, has found another potential medical use. Using morphine-tolerant rats as their guinea pigs, Ru-Yin Tsai et al. provide evidence that resveratrol has potential as an ‘analgesic adjuvant’ (i.e. preserves the potent pain-relieving effect, of morphine in this instance) in clinical pain management. This should be useful for humans who need long-term morphine administration and for morphine-tolerant patients who require better pain relief. Which may be very good news because, in a comparison of 78 ‘varieties’, Pamela Gatto et al. found that resveratrol was relatively high in several Pinot grape cultivars, and highest in Pinot noir. Cheers!

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