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Changes in grape-associated microbiome as a consequence of post-harvest withering

Tiziana Nardi, CREA Conegliano - Italy

Changes in grape-associated microbiome as a consequence of post-harvest withering

Grape withering is an oenological post-harvest process used for production of reinforced and sweet wines.  Drying can be carried out by keeping the ripe grape in traditional large, well-aired rooms (non-controlled environment) or, more and more often, in a warehouse under controlled conditions of airflow and relative humidity (controlled environment). The microbiome associated with withering grapes has been showed to be profoundly linked with the process and its results. The main aims of this study were to (a) provide detailed information on bacterial and fungal communities evolution throughout the grapes withering process, and (b) perform a comparative study between two dehydration methods, regarding the associated microbiomes. 

Samples of withering grapes were collected in the Italian viticultural zone Valpolicella, where the renowned wine Amarone is produced using non-botrytized withered grapes of Corvina variety. Two different post-harvest conditions were analyzed (non-controlled and controlled withering environment); grapes coming from two vineyards (close but differing for soil characteristics) were considered, during 2 subsequent vintages. To map the microbiome during withering, Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) was employed: the progression of fungal and bacterial species was characterized through metabarcoding (ITS and 16s) at 4 different time points (from 0 to 30% of weight loss).

Were there significant differences, at biodiversity level, found between the microbial communities of grapes from the two vineyards/vintages? Was the evolution of microorganisms during drying variable? Can changes of drying conditions lead to significant modifications of the berry-skin microbiota?

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Published on 07/13/2022
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