Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Applied Plant Science, 2014
Areas of Interest
Cold-hardy grapes, pest resistance, wine quality
My research focuses on using both traditional and molecular plant breeding approaches to develop improved grape cultivars for cold climate wine production. One key area of research is studying the genetics behind the unique resistances to common grapevine pests such as powdery mildew, phylloxera, downy mildew, and black rot in our hybrid germplasm. Our goal is to develop new grape varieties with multiple resistances so that growers can reduce the amounts of pesticides applied in a season.
HORT 1001 Plant Propagation (spring)
The Grape Breeding and Enology Project focuses on four key research areas: developing cultivars for wine and table grape production, optimizing wine-making practices for cold-hardy grapes, understanding the genetic bases of pest resistance, and characterizing the genomics of fruit quality traits. New cultivars are the product of decades of effort of the plant breeder(s) and viticulture and enology team. Our research focuses on ways to optimize the breeding process to increase our chances of finding the best selections. We have transitioned over the last 5 years to using genetic marker analysis, DNA tests to expedite the process. Several wine, table, juice grape selections have been disclosed or are currently being tested by growers, nurseries, and university partners. These potential future selections are the next generations of grapes for our region. The DNA tests that we have developed in house and with collaborators are the direct result of research in understanding the genetics and genomics of important traits. My general research question is: what part of the grape genome is responsible for the trait of interest? We have focused extensively on grapevine phylloxera, an insect pest in hybrid grapes. We also collaborate on studying the resistance to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is important in grapevine production around the globe. My research focuses on developing the right plant material, or germplasm, to study these traits. After identifying the genomic region or even the genes, we are then able to develop, test, and implement markers to screen for or against plants in the breeding pipeline at various stages, but with the most impact during the greenhouse stage. We also focus on fruit quality traits, flavor and aroma, but also the architecture of the grape bunch, or leaf characteristics that effect the overall plant’s health. To answer these questions we have employed numerous novel and well-tested approaches including digital image analysis, mass spectrometry, and microscopy to examine features like berry color, aromatic compounds and leaf hairs, respectively.
Coordinated extension activities with the grape and wine-making community in Minnesota and the region along with Annie Klodd (extension educator) and Drew Horton (enology specialist). We work with grape growers ranging from home owners and hobbyists to commercial vineyards. We also support wine makers of all levels and skills through workshops, training and conferences. We also work with Master Gardeners to teach them about home viticulture.
Underhill, A. N.*, Clark, M. D., & Hirsch, C. D. Image-based phenotyping identifies QTL for cluster compactness in grape. J ASHS. [Accepted 6/14/20]
Zou, C., Karn, A., Reisch, B., Nguyen, A., Sun, Y., Bao, Y., Cambell, M. S., Church, D., Williams, S., Xu, X., Ledbetter, C. A., Patel, S., Fennell, A., Glaubitz, J., Clark, M., Ware, D., Londo, J., Sun, Q., & Cadle, L. (2020). Haplotyping the Vitis collinear core genome with rhAmpSeq improves marker transferability in a diverse genus. Nature Biotechnology. ;
Underhill, A. N.*, Clark, M. D., & Hirsch, C. D. (2020). Evaluating and mapping grape color using image-based phenotyping. Plant Phenomics: 8086309. https://doi.org/10.34133/2020/8086309 ;
Maher, M. F.*, Nasti, R. A.*, Vollbrecht, M.*, Starker, C. G., Clark, M. D., & Voytas, D. F. (2019). Plant gene editing through de novo induction of meristems. Nature Biotech. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-019-0337-2 ;
Yin, L.*, Clark, M., Burkness, E., & Hutchison, W. (2019). Grape Phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch (Hemiptera: Phylloxeridae), on Cold-hardy Hybrid Wine Grapes (Vitis spp.): A Review of Pest Biology, Damage, and Management Practices. J. Integrated Pest Management. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jipm/pmz011 ;
Rice, S., Tursumbayeva, M., Clark, M., Greenlee, D., Dharmadhikari, M., Fennell, A., & Koziel, J. A. (2019). Effects of harvest time on the aroma of white wines made from cold-hardy Brianna and Frontenac gris grapes using headspace solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-olfactometry. Foods, 8(1). doi: 10.3390/foods8010029 ;
Clark, M. D., Teh, S. L.*, Burkness, E., Moreira, L.*, Watson, G.*, Yin, L.*, Hutchison, W.*, & Luby, J. (2018). Quantitative trait loci identified for foliar phylloxera resistance in a hybrid grape population. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 24(3), 292-300. doi: 10.1111/ajgw.12341