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Podcast S5E8: Beyond Riesling: The Secrets of Grapevine Breeding

Beyond Riesling: The Secrets of Grapevine Breeding


In this episode with Kai Voss-Fels we dive into the complex world of grapevine breeding. Discover the unique challenges of breeding grafted crops. Enhancing genetic gain becomes multifaceted due to the fact that grapevines consist of two genetically distinct parts, the scion (upper) and rootstock (lower). Our discussion centers on addressing challenges such as water limitation, and drought stress for the lower section, while simultaneously focusing on improving sustainability by introgression of resistances in the uppper part. Moreover, we explore the ACGG (Accelerating Crop Genetic Gain) program, an international research initiative funded by the DFG in Germany, aimed at training PhD students and postdocs to tackle different questions with relevance to speeding up the varietal development process.



Kai Voss-Fels is Professor of Grapevine Breeding at Geisenheim University where he leads a team of researchers, students and technical staff working on genetics, genomics and breeding of grapevine. After completing his PhD in plant breeding and quantitative genetics at Justus Liebig University Giessen in 2016, he was a senior research fellow and group leader at the University of Queensland, Australia from 2017-2021. In 2021, he moved to Geisenheim University to develop a new research program focused on genomics-assisted rootstock improvement and clonal selection in grapevine.

Prof. Voss-Fels' research aims at developing and implementing new genomics-assisted breeding approaches to improve yield, quality and resistances in major crops. This involves combining quantitative genetics, genomics and computational methods for prediction to help accelerate genetic gain. Prof. Voss-Fels has worked across a range of crops incl. wheat, barley, sugarcane, rapeseed, chickpea, and now grapevine. He works closely with leading national and international partners across the public and private sectors. Prof. Voss-Fels has won several prestigious awards and has published the outcomes of his research in almost 50 peer-reviewed articles in some of the highest impact journals in his field.


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