Wine grape varieties were first domesticated in the South Caucasus

(ORDO NEWS) — The wild and cultivated subspecies of grapes split about 22-30 thousand years ago. In the process of domestication, the metabolism of carbohydrates changed in grapes, and from dioecious these plants turned into hermaphrodites.

Such grapes have increased berries and bunches, it has become sweeter, the size and shape of the seeds have changed. People are known to have made wine in the Neolithic, and the domestication of grapes took place about six to eight thousand years ago.

Science has known before that the grapes, from which wine is made today , comes from a region entering or bordering the South Caucasus: Iran, Turkey and the Caucasus. Vessels with traces of wine were found on the territory of modern Iran and Armenia. It is believed that after that the grapes got to the Middle East, and from there to Egypt and Greece.

Scientists from the University of Udine (Italy) have conducted a genomic analysis of wine grapes grown throughout Europe and published the results of their study in the journal Nature Communications . In total, 204 genomes of cultivated (Vitis vinifera) and wild grapes were analyzed.

The researchers concluded that their ancestors were domesticated varieties first grown in the South Caucasus. This region includes Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This happened about four thousand years ago.

Scientists also obtained evidence that such grapes slowly “migrated” to European vineyards, to the Mediterranean region, and then “migrated” to southern Europe, where they were crossed with local varieties. Crossbreeding, the study authors believe, helped the plant survive colder European winters. In addition, this, in their opinion, led to the emergence of various wine varieties known today.

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