A combination of personal research curiosity, international collaboration and impactful findings resulted in the perfect blend for a group of researchers, including Trent’s Dr. Neil Emery and Dr. Erin Morrison, who were awarded the 2021 Best Viticulture Paper by the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV).
“To be chosen as the top paper by such a prestigious venue is really gratifying,” says Dr. Emery, Biology professor and one of the world’s leading experts in the study of plant hormones. “AJEV is known by scientists as the top place to publish, specifically when it comes to winemaking or grape-growing. The journal has an enthusiastic readership that includes professionals from wineries around the world.”
The paper, titled Soil Temperature Prior to Veraison Alters Grapevine Carbon Partitioning, Xylem Sap Hormones, and Fruit Set, was co-authored with a group of researchers from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at the Charles Sturt University in Australia, by leveraging connections with Dr. Stewart Field. Prof. Emery and Dr. Morrison, an adjunct professor in the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program at Trent and alumna of the Emery Lab, have been working with Dr. Field (now at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology in New Zealand) and his team for a number of years in researching the impact of soil temperature on cytokinins, a group of plant hormones that aid growth, fruit ripening, and more.
“Like viticulture, science can take years to ripen a good collaboration,” says Prof. Emery, who first met Dr. Field in 2004. “He knew that my lab at Trent University was one of few in the world that could analyze cytokinins. Pairing our analytical services with the elaborate vine culture apparatus built at Charles Sturt was the perfect combination.”
The team’s ongoing research focuses on the reaction of cytokinins to variable soil temperatures and the impact on grape ripening (a process called veraison in the viticulture world) and sweetness – both of which are critical to producing a great wine. Strategic grape growing and harvesting is essential to having a good vintage year, and the team’s findings provides key insights for scientists and professional growers.
Learn more about Trent’s Biology program, which has been ranked as one of the top 20 university Biology programs in Canada by Maclean’s University Rankings – applications for fall 2021 are still open.