Category Archives: Wines and Oenology
It is really surprising, but it seems so: Italian and Austrian researchers have published a paper (Campisano et al. 2014) which shows that the bacterial species Propionibacterium acnes, related to human acne, can be found as obligate endophytes in bark tissues of Vitis vinifera, the grapevine.
Some bacterial pathogens of humans, such as Salmonella, are able to colonize plant tissues but temporarily and opportunistically (Tyler & Triplett 2008). In fact, there is a temporary mutual benefit between plants and bacteria, so some of these enterobacteria pathogenic to plants do not live endophytically and can be beneficial for them. These pathogens to humans, in its life cycle, use plants as alternative hosts to survive the environment, passing to the plants through contaminated irrigation water. Therefore, some bacteria are often temporary endophyte guests of plants.
But on the other hand, there are relatively rare cases of bacteria changing the host and adapting to the new host, finally being endophytes. This horizontal transfer happens mostly between evolutionarily close hosts, such as symbiotic bacteria of aphids (insects), which has proven to transfer to other species of aphids (Russell & Moran 2005). It has also been suggested the horizontal transfer of beneficial lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus reuteri) in the intestinal tract of vertebrates, since strains of this L. reuteri are similar in several species of mammals and birds.
Well, going beyond, the work of Campisano et al. subject of this review, concludes that bacteria associated with human acne should have passed on the vine, that is, the bacteria would have made a horizontal transfer interregnum, from plants to mammals.
Propionibacterium acnes type Zappae
Acne, as you know, is a common human skin disease, consisting of an excess secretion of the pilosebaceous glands caused by hormonal changes, especially teenagers. The glands become inflamed, the pores obstructed and scarring appears. The microorganism associated with these infections is the opportunistic commensal bacterium P. acnes, a gram-positive anaerobic aero tolerant rod, which fed fatty acids produced by the glands.
Young with acne (Wikimedia, public)
Propionibacterium acnes at the scanning electron microscope (left) and dyed with violet crystal (right). From Abate ME (2013) Student Pulse 5, 9, 1-4.
Interestingly, other species of the same genus Propionibacterium well known in microbial biotechnology industry are used for the production of propionic acid, vitamin B12, and the Swiss cheeses Gruyere or Emmental.
Campisano et al. have made a study of the vineyard endomicrobioma by the sequencing technique (Roche 454) amplifying the V5-V9 hyper variable region of the bacterial 16S rDNA present in the tissues of vine. In 54 of the 60 plants analyzed, between 0.5% and 5% of the found sequences correspond to the species Propionibacterium acnes. This observation has been confirmed by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with fluorochromes and specific probes of P. acnes.
Location of P. acnes (fluorescent blue spots) in the bark of a vine stem, seen with FISH microscopy with specific probes for this bacterium (Campisano et al 2004).
The authors of this work proposed for this bacterium the name of P. acnes Zappae, in memory of the eccentric musician and composer Frank Zappa, to emphasize the unexpected and unconventional habitat of this type of P. acnes.
Frank Zappa (1940-1993), the eccentric and satiric singer, musician and composer. Photo: Frank Zappa reviews.
And how did this human bacteria arrive into the vineyard?
To solve this riddle, Campisano et al. have taken the 16S rDNA sequences and from other genes (recA and tly) from these strains of P. acnes Zappae found in vine and have compared with those P. acnes of human origin in databases. Comparing phylogenies and clusters deducted from them, these researchers have concluded that P. a. Zappae has diversified evolutionarily recently. Studying in detail the recA gene sequences of P. a. Zappae, and taking into account the likely mutation rate and generation time (about 5 hours), they deduce that the diversification from other P. acnes occurred 6000-7000 years ago.
This date coincides with the known domestication of the vine by humans, which is believed to have occurred about 7000 years ago in the southern Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the area of modern Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran (Berkowitz 1996). The vineyard has its origins in a wild subspecies of Vitis that survived the Ice Age and was domesticated. This plant came out to three subspecies, and one of them, Vitis vinifera pontica, spread in the mentioned area and further south in Mesopotamia and then to all south Europe thanks to the Phoenicians.
Therefore, the conclusion is that P. acnes Zappae originated from human P. acnes 7000 years ago, by contact of human hands with grapes and other parts of the vineyard during the harvest and carrying them. As the authors say, this case would be the first evidence of horizontal transfer interregnum, from humans to plants, of a obligate symbiotic bacterium. This also makes more remarkable the adaptability of bacteria. Their ability to exploit new habitats can have unforeseen impacts on the evolution of host-symbiont relationship or even host-pathogen.
Harvesting by hand in Chile (Fine Wine and Good Spirits)
Berkowitz M (1996) World’s earliest wine. Archaeology 49, 5, Sept./Oct.
Campisano Aet al. (2014) Interkingdom transfer of the acne-causing agent, Propionibacterium acnes, from human to grapevine. Mol Biol Evol 31, 1059-1065.
Gruber K (4 march 2014) How grapevines got acne bacteria. Nature News 4 march 2014.
Russell JA, NA Moran (2005) Horizontal transfer of bacterial symbionts: heritability and fitness effects in a novel aphid host. Appl Environ Microbiol 71, 7987-7994.
Tyler HL, EW Triplett (2008) Plants as a habitat for beneficial and/or human pathogenic bacteria. Ann Rev Phytopathol 46, 53-73.
Walter J, RA Britton, S Roos (2011) PNAS 108, 4645-4652.
First of all, I apologize to friends of this blog for these last five months without any post. Sorry, I had too much work of teaching and research, and also I had to prepare this Conference that I am commenting now.
I have had the pleasure of being the organizer of this conference, along with Pep Llauradó, because I am the coordinator (and Pep is the manager) of the sub-campus Oenology of CEICS, the Campus of International Excellence Southern Catalonia.
CEICS is the strategic aggregation, driven by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, of various institutions and structures of teaching, research, transference, and the productive sector of southern Catalonia, with the goal of becoming an international benchmark in 5 areas: Chemistry, Nutrition-Health, Tourism, Culture-Heritage and Oenology.
In 2012 I had the honor of being named coordinator of subcampus Oenology of CEICS, by the rector of the URV Xavier Grau, who is the president of CEICS.
The subcampus Oenology includes URV, Fundació URV, the technological park VITEC of Falset, IRTA, INCAVI, the cluster INNOVI, and most of catalan DO (Appelation of Origin), especially those of Tarragona, and companies and wineries, such as Freixenet and others.
One of the main objectives of CEICS is to promote the visibility of research done in the region. Therefore, since the beginning of CEICS, with the occasion of the 1st Forum held in November 2011, a conference-meeting like this was already planned, in order to share and diffuse the research done in Catalonia.
Inauguration of the Conference, with the rector of the URV Xavier Grau and the Dean of the Faculty of Oenology Joan Miquel Canals.
In Catalonia we have often the opportunity to attend various scientific conferences or technical meetings on oenology and/or viticulture. The INCAVI, the Catalan Association of Winemakers (ACE) or the cluster INNOVI, or the Facultat d’Enologia from URV often organize special courses or seminars. All of them are very interesting and necessary, and add value to the Catalan wine industry, but perhaps there had not yet been done so far a meeting of all catalan researchers in this field, in order to see all the research that is being carried out, not just in a specific focus or subject.
All in all, we considered appropriate to take the energy and push of CEICS for organizing this conference. The main objective was to publicize and disseminate the research carried out in Catalonia in Oenology and Viticulture and related issues. Before the conference, we reviewed databases of scientific publications in the last years, and we have seen that in Catalonia there are about 20 research groups whose main lines are related to the sciences of oenology and viticulture, but in addition there are 40 other groups and researchers that although his main area of research is not the viticulture and oenology, in recent years they have published several papers related to aspects of vitiviniculture, even from scientific disciplines apparently far away. All they were invited to this conference held in Tarragona (at Campus Sescelades URV), to present their most innovative research in the form of posters. I must thank them all for the good response, since there was a total of 44 posters presented.
Another implicit goal of the conference was meeting people. This conference was an opportunity to meet, discuss and explore the details of recent work with colleagues from different centers in Catalonia, maybe even meeting in person for the first time in some cases, and promote collaboration between groups.
But in addition, this Conference has not been a meeting exclusively for scientists. The research is meaningless if it has no practical application and benefits in the winemaking process, though often not immediate implementation. It binds with the main objective of the conference, as mentioned, to make visible the research done here. In this regard, some of the posters that were presented have been selected so that the authors briefly commented on the general sessions, and the selection has been done keeping in mind the interest of the research done for the wine industry.
Most of the program of the day was related to the same posters presented. So in addition to seeing and commenting particularly with authors throughout the day, there were four general sessions where experts presented them in summary. In these four sessions grouping of posters was based on their areas.
Robert Savé and Anna Puig
Lluís Tolosa taking notes of one poster.
Robert Savé (researcher of IRTA) presented and moderate the session of Viticulture. Olga Busto (professor of URV) did the same with the Oenological Chemistry and Technology session. Anna Puig (researcher of INCAVI) did the same in session of Microbiology in Enology and Viticulture, and finally the sociologist and writer Lluís Tolosa presented and moderate the session of other subjects related to the vine and wine, such as the issues of effects on health, environmental impact, socioeconomic aspects like tourism, food industry or other applications, or historical and cultural aspects and even prehistoric.
The collection of papers presented showed good international quality of research conducted in oenology and viticulture in Catalonia, and at the same time, the wide variety of topics. With the abstracts of papers a book has been edited: “1st Research Conference on Enology and Viticulture in Catalonia, Book of abstracts of the conference organized by CEICS, Tarragona June 4, 2013”, which has been published by Service of the Publications URV, with ISBN 978-84-695-7878-0.
In addition, the conference included the inaugural lesson of the internationally renowned researcher in vine genetics, José Miguel Martínez Zapater, who has an extensive curriculum research in plant genetics.
Since 1998 Dr. Zapater works on the genetics of Vitis, having achieved important results, both on varietal identification by molecular techniques and also on vine transcriptomics, with the study of gene expression in function on the conditions of climate change. Since 2010 is the director of the new Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y el Vino (ICVV) in Logroño.
The lesson of Dr. Zapater was an excellent review of the genetic variability of Vitis and of the molecular techniques to identify different vine varieties.
We can say that the Conference, with about 70 attendees, was a success. There were researchers, students, technicians and professionals, of URV, INCAVI, IRTA, VITEC, UAB, UB, UPC, UDL, CSIC, and seven companies. In a survey that we asked them to fill up, we have concluded that most of the participants were very satisfied with the conference, its organization, its development, and express their wishdom to do it again, annualy or every two years.
and use the translator buttons with flags, at right corner.
Thanks for your collaboration