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May 08, 2023

Armenian Highlands as the cradle of grape domestication

The Institute of Molecular Biology of Armenia was part of the world's largest grape genome research project, realized by 23 research centers from 16 countries. 

The project lasted about 4 years and collected a huge database of complete genomes of 3525 wild and cultivated grape varieties, the analysis of which allowed the international team to make several revolutionary conclusions, adding to the already known facts about the grape genome, evolution, migration pathways, domestication, and a number of domesticated genes. 

For example, it has been established that grapes were domesticated not 8000, but 11000 years ago simultaneously in two parallel centers: in the Caucasus and in Western Asia. Therefore, the argument that the grape has only one main center of domestication is refuted. 

Originally wine grapes were domesticated in the Caucasus, while table grapes were domesticated in Western Asia. 

Research proves that the Armenian Highlands is the cradle of grape domestication. 

It should be noted that the Vine and Wine Foundation has organised the collection and study of grape genetic resources in Armenia for the conservation and sustainable use of grape genetic resources in Armenia. Rare varieties, many of which were on the verge of extinction, were propagated. As a result, a national grape collection garden was established in 2016, aimed at preserving the national gene pool of grapes. 

For the purpose of comprehensive characterisation, including genotype and phenotype studies, of cultivated grape varieties and their wild relatives kept in the National Grape Collection Park of the Republic of Armenia, a detailed study of the gene pool of Armenian grape varieties was conducted within the framework of the Foundation's joint project with the researchers of Institute of Molecular Biology of National Academy of Sciences RA and Institute of Grape Selection of Federal Republic of Germany.  The works carried out are summarized in the general database of Armenia VITIS (Armenian Vitis Database,, where 170 passports of grape genotypes are summarized at present.