Summer Student Program Projects
Summer studentships offer second and third year university students an opportunity to conduct research at CSIRO Plant Industry.
23 September 2010 | Updated 24 October 2012
Read the details about the Summer Student Program projects offered in Adelaide, South Australia.
1. How do grapevines survive when it is hot and dry?
Supervisor: Everard Edwards
Grapevines may be water-stressed in the vineyard due to the implementation of deficit irrigation techniques to control canopy growth, or as a result of limited irrigation water availability. Past work by summer students in our group, using young wines in a glasshouse and mature vines in natural conditions, has shown that when a high-temperature event occurs, water-stressed vines suffer extensive heat stress. In contrast, well-watered vines can survivie temperatures in excess of 45oC with little or no damage. Assessing the degree of heat-stress requires extensive field measurements and knowledge of an impending high-temperature event. Our group is examining the potential for molecular markers to be used for qualitative assessment of stress and prediction of heat damage/resilience using qPCR of heat-shock and other genes from glasshouse grown grapevines. This work will help grapegrowers determine the most effective strategies for managing grapevines during periods of potentially damaging high temperature.
2. Talking to my feet: messages from grapevine leaves to the roots and back again.
Supervisor: Marisa Collins
Using field based grafted vines this project will examine how scion / rootstock interactions affect the response of leaves and roots to water stress. This information is highly useful as it helps grapegrowers understand how the interaction between the canopy (scion) and roots (rootstock) is driving vine response to drought conditions. Throughout the world, grapevines for wine production are commonly grafted onto rootstocks to improve grapevine performance and disease resistance. This results in a plant with two distinct genetic components, the winegrape scion (the trunk, shoots, leaves and berries above the graft) and the rootstock (lower trunk and roots). There are extensive studies on the effect of rootstocks on scion performance, particularly drought tolerance, vine growth and wine quality. We also know that stomatal behavior and drought tolerance differs significantly between scions. Despite this knowledge there are limited studies that examine the interactive effect of scion behaviour on rootstock response to drought. Work in our group has shown that both rootstocks and scions differ in their sensitivity to water stress.
3. Why does light make red grapevines more purple?
Supervisor: Mandy Walker
This project aims to help us to understand how sunlight helps fruit, such as apples and apricots, to colour on the side that is exposed to the sun. Researchers have observed that transgenic grapevines which overexpress the gene responsible for red berry colour have almost black leaves when in full sun; however, these leaves appear paler when in the shade. The genetic control responsible for this change is not known to be induced by light which means there must be another gene responsible for this observation. This project will involve techniques such as RNA extraction, generating cDNA, quantitative PCR analysis, invitro experiments and HPLC analytical techniques to hunt for this light sensitive gene.