Global climate change is projected to cause significant alterations to the phenology, yield and quality of winegrapes. Those
climatic parameters that will drive such change may strongly depend on specific regions and highlight vulnerability of this
crop. Diminished final quality of grape fruit and wine as a consequence of projected changes of temperature and reductions
in water availability may have a substantial impact on the economic viability of this industry particularly in warmer Regions
like the Iberian Penninsula. This project coordinates the efforts of two teams, building upon previous projects that have
focused on the effects of water deficit on grapevine, and aim to complement each other in the study of the two main effects
of climate change on this crop under Mediterranean conditions: ecopphysiological and genetic variability of water use
efficiency (WUE) and how mesoclimatic variability, more specifically temperature and soil water availability, influence WUE.
The knowledge generated will allow a better evaluation of the vulnerability of wine grape production to global climate
change, and the identification of ways to reduce its impacts.
At the physiological level the aim is to research key, poorly characterized aspects of WUE including transpiration control
(leaf hydraulic conductivity) and CO2 assimilation (mesophyll conductance). Elements that seem to be common to these two
pathways (aquaporins), point to a need to understand their expression and regulation in grapevines as well as, the relation
between variation of their control in relation to WUE. The effects of temperature and water availability will be studied in
relation to such control. At the plant level, and under field conditions, a primary objective is to determine the effects of
mesoclimatic variation to advance the knowledge of the effects of environmental variables like cover crops on vegetative
growth, and its influence on water balance, water use efficiency, yield and quality. The collaboration among the involved
research groups, with wide experience in this field, and international participation of colleagues with expertise in viticulture
and climate change as well as the support of project development shown by different wineries, guarantee the viability and
achievement of proposed objectives and highlight the interest results of this project may have to mitigate perceived
consequences of global climate change on viticulture sustainability and wine quality.