University of Illinois Researchers Develop 2,4-D Resistant Grapes

November 19, 2008 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new grape variety called Improved Chancellor which is resistant to the herbicide 2, 4-D.  USDA researchers discovered the gene.  According to University of Illinois, the gene has been successfully transferred to grape cells.

Currently, the grape plants have only been raised in greenhouses. The researchers are hoping to have permission to move the research outside by the spring of 2009. They are currently testing the grapes for toxins that would prevent harvesting for fresh or wine sales.

The herbicide 2, 4-D, which is commonly used on corn, wheat and turfgrass to kill broadleaves, will at very low concentrations kill or damage grapes. Today 2,4-D remains one of the most widely used herbicides in the midwest, primarily for burndown application in corn and soybeans.

Like many other discoveries in science, this gene was found by accident.  The USDA found a soil bacterium that had a gene that breaks down 2, 4-D. Someone noticed that after spilling 2, 4-D on the ground, something in the soil neutralized the herbicidal effects of 2,4-D.

Because the new grape is genetically modified it hasn’t been tested outside of the greenhouse yet. Univ. of Illinois researchers hope to get permission to grow them in an isolation plot outdoors by spring 2009.

A grape resistant to 2, 4-D would be a huge plus to the grape and wine industry, as well as the backyard hobby grape grower.

Ohio State University publishes the on-online version of the Midwest Grape Production Guide, available at: In addition to the guide, Ohio State University also has extensive information on grapes through the Ohio Grape Web at:

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