SNFL Mediterraneo, the exclusive master licensee for Ralli Seedless in Europe, has announced the development of a simple DNA test which it claims can positively distinguish between Ralli Seedless and Sugrafourteen grapes.
The effort came following the past Mediterranean grape season, when breeders Special New Fruit Licensing (SNFL) became concerned by numerous suspicious shipments of red seedless grapes labeled as Sugrafourteen in UK, European and South African markets, most of which originated from Egypt.
SNFL apparently commissioned Dr Javier Ibáñez, scientist of the CSIC at the ICVV institute in Spain to undertake a detailed genetic examination of the two varieties to determine whether or not a DNA analysis could unequivocally distinguish them.
After three months’ work, Dr Ibáñez discovered a single nucleotide different in the DNA sequence of Ralli compared with Sugrafourteen. This difference is being used to create a DNA marker that can be easily detectable using a simple DNA test.
Josep Estiarte, director of SNFL Mediterraneo, commented: “This is a real breakthrough and will help safeguard both growers and retailers from this practice which is illegal on two counts – misrepresentation of the variety on the label and export documentation, and infringement of the Plant Breeders Rights held by G&I Ralli and Sons, the owners of Ralli Seedless. We shall now run our new test on all samples of red grapes that we find labeled as Sugrafourteen, and where we find that the variety is actually Ralli Seedless then we will take appropriate action against the infringing growers and shippers, and inform any retailers concerned of our findings.”