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Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

Professor

204 Hedrick Hall
(315) 787-2239

I specialize in the development of new wine and table grape varieties, as well as new grape breeding techniques. Since joining the Cornell faculty in 1980, my program has released 13 new grape varieties - ten wine grapes (cooperatively with the Dept. of Food Science and Technology) and three seedless table grapes. The grape breeding program continues to emphasize wine variety development with a strong emphasis on combining wine quality with disease resistance and cold tolerance. We develop flavorful, attractive table grapes, as well. We complement the traditional breeding program with experimental approaches to develop complete maps of grapevine chromosomes, and to study functional gene expression. In addition to my research responsibilities, I was Chair for over 10 years of the Grape Crop Germplasm Committee, a national committee overseeing U.S. Department of Agriculture efforts to preserve wild and cultivate grapevines. My studies have taken me to international conferences, research stations and the grape growing regions of France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Israel, Hungary, Turkey, Thailand, Switzerland, China and Japan. My laboratory has hosted graduate students and researchers from many parts of the world, including Japan, Chile, Brazil, Pakistan, France, South Africa, Germany, Hungary, Korea, Israel and China.

Research Focus

Using tools of genetics and genomics for grapevine improvement:
Program objectives focus on the genetic improvement of grapevines while integrating traditional and novel techniques. In the traditional portion of the project, interspecific hybridization is used to select wine grapes with cold hardiness, high yield, disease resistance and high wine quality. The 'Traminette' grapevine, a cold-hardy, disease resistant white wine grape which makes a wine reminiscent of Gewürztraminer, has been extremely well received by the premium wine industry and received the Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award from American Society for Horticultural Science in 2015. Genetic mapping is used to locate genes controlling viticulturally important traits, and marker-assisted selection is used routinely to pre-select for traits that would otherwise be difficult to evaluate or take years to determine.

Program objectives focus on the genetic improvement of grapevines while integrating traditional and novel techniques. In the traditional portion of the project, interspecific hybridization is used to select wine grapes with cold hardiness, disease resistance and high wine quality. Our 1996 release, 'Traminette', a cold-hardy, disease resistant white wine grape producing a wine reminiscent of Gewürztraminer, has been extremely well received by the premium wine industry. Three new wine grapes were released for use in 2006 and are quickly being adopted by the eastern grape industry. 'Arandell' (disease resistant red wine grape) and 'Aromella' (hardy, productive white wine grape) were named and released in 2013. Also, table grapes with pleasing flavors, cold hardiness, seedlessness, storage potential, and large berry and cluster size are under development. Disease resistance is a high priority objective. Our best accessions, usually derived from native American species, are used as parents to impart high levels of disease resistance. Promising selections are tested across New York State and with University cooperators across the United States. Novel techniques in plant breeding are also being studied for potential contributions to grapevine improvement. These studies currently focus on an assortment DNA techniques to place molecular markers on genetic linkage maps in Vitis. Our present efforts focus on use of these maps for marker-assisted selection. Large mapping populations are being used to study the genetics of a range of viticultural and resistance traits. we have been applying marker-assisted breeding technology directly to the ongoing breeding program, and are seeking efficient means to expand such efforts.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Extension is a small but highly important position responsibility. The wine and grape industries rely on me as a source for information not only on the new cultivars developed in my program, but also on the full range of wine and table grape cultivars available on today`s market. Our approach is to supply test selections and cultivars to researchers in many states; gather information on cultivars and selections in trials at Geneva, Fredonia, Pennsylvania, and Niagara County; and to present information at public meetings, workshops, and on our program web site as well as via the SCRI project website, www.vitisgen.org .

Teaching Focus

In addition to teaching Grapevine Biology (Spring 2013; Hort 4940), I also contributed a lecture to a Fall 2013 Fruit Crops Physiology course, also taught under the Hort 4940/Special Topics course number.

I team-teach a course in Grapevine Biology, focusing my lectures on the field of grape breeding, genetics, and germplasm conservation.

Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Fruit Cultivar 2015 - 'Traminette' wine grape (2015) American Society for Horticultural Science
  • Outstanding Career Accomplishments in Applied Research (2011) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • Grapevine Breeding in the United States: Perspectives from the VitisGen Project. Innovine - Final Symposium. November 2016. Innovine - Project funded by the European Union. Toulouse, France.
  • Grapevine Breeding in the United States: Perspectives from the VitisGen Project. Invited Seminar. November 2016. University of Bordeaux. Bordeaux, France.
  • The SCRI VitisGen project (2011-2016): A final report. CRAVE- Cornell Recent Advances in Viticulture and Enology. November 2016. Cornell Cooperative Extension. Ithaca, NY.
  • Cornell’s Grape Breeding Program and the Impact of the SCRI “VitisGen” Project. February 2016. Cornell University - Horticulture Section. Ithaca, NY.
  • Application of Genomics Technology: The VitisGen Project. Invited seminar - National Institute of Fruit Tree Science. October 2014. National Agriculture and Food Organization - Institute of Fruit Tree Science, Japan. Higashi Hiroshima, Japan.
  • Application of Genomics Technology: The VitisGen Project. "Progress in Fruit Breeding and Genomics". October 2014. National Agriculture and Food Organization - Institute of Fruit Tree Science, Japan. Higashi Hiroshima, Japan.
  • Progress in Grapevine Breeding at Cornell University. "Progress in Fruit Breeding and Genomics". October 2014. National Agriculture and Food Organization - Institute of Fruit Tree Science, Japan. Higashi Hiroshima, Japan.
  • Grapevine breeding - evolution or revolution? 10th International Symposium on Grapevine Breeding and Genetics. July 2014. International Society for Horticultural Science. Beijing, China.
  • Breeding Hybrid Wine Grapes at Cornell and the Integration of Markers for Disease Resistance. April 2011. Fondazione Edmund Mach, Instituto Agrario. San Michele Al'Adige, Trentino, Italy.
  • A brief history of grapevine breeding in New York. Welcoming reception of the 10th International Conference on Grapevine Breeding and Genetics. August 2010. Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY.