Researchers at INRA Bordeaux-Aquitaine have identified new genetic markers and developed genotyping technology that can identify species and determine if a batch of oak wood matches its stated provenance. The technology is flexible, quick, accurate, and cost-effective. To make it available to wine-barrel industry stakeholders (forest managers, stave mills, coopers, winemakers), the technology will be transferred to the FCBA Technical Institute.

As a part of the Xyloforest Equipment of Excellence programme (French Stimulus Initiative), a more powerful and tamperproof next-generation genetic test was developed by researchers at INRA Bordeaux-Aquitaine. The test can check the provenance and species of oak wood used in the cooperage industry. It will be an effective deterrent against fraud and will promote traceability measures with wood industry stakeholders.

The work of the OAKTRACK project is supported by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as a part of its Emergence programme. The project developed molecular tools to check the provenance of oak wood used in cooperage and then made these tools accessible to industry stakeholders. There were two components to the project: identifying species and determining geographic provenance. With this tool, forest and wood industry stakeholders have the means to certify their products or their supplies. Forest managers will be able to guarantee the species and geographic origin of their timber with a tamperproof DNA test.

By identifying the oak species used, winemakers will be able to enhance the maturation process of wine and spirits through increased control of the aromatic properties of the wood used for their barrels.

To find the most effective genetic markers for identifying oak species and for assessing their geographic origin, a large number of DNA sequences were analysed from a wide range of samples characteristic of the genetic diversity of oak species.

Once the most effective markers were identified, researchers then looked to develop genotyping technology for genetic identification using mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry technology has a number of benefits; it is flexible, quick, accurate, and cost-effective. Two genetic marker kits were developed and designed to be used independently or in combination. The tests can definitively identify oak wood species and check the wood’s geographic origin against its stated provenance.

The tools are designed to meet the needs both of producers, who want to enhance the value of their oak wood, and users, who want to ensure the supplies they procure are accredited. 


Guichoux E, Petit RJ (2014), Invention disclosure (n° DI-RV-13-00566) filed with the INPI (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle): Méthode de traçabilité géographique des bois de chêne (Geographical traceability method for oak wood).