News of the WeekPlant Genetics

A Paternity Case for Wine Lovers

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Science  03 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5433, pp. 1470-1471
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5433.1470

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Using DNA fingerprinting techniques akin to those used to solve crimes and settle paternity suits, scientists at the University of California, Davis, have discovered that 18 of the world's most renowned grapevine varieties, or cultivars, long grown in northeastern France--including Chardonnay, the "king of whites," and reds such as Pinot and Gamay noir--are close relatives. Indeed, as the team reports on page 1562, 16 of the cultivars turned out to be the offspring of a single, highly prolific pair of parents. Because one of the parents has been in bad repute for centuries, the findings are likely to cause a stir in the wine community.