High quality grapevine and fruit production relies on optimal conditions concerning vineyard and orchard management and environmental conditions.
The Division of Viticulture and Pomology conducts research with focus on plant diversity, biotic and abiotic stresses on perennial plants, fruit quality and agronomic management systems.
In close cooperation with producers, the researchers are following the aim to preserve and enhance a sustainable high quality grape and fruit production. 

Group: Stress Physiology

Plants respond to external triggers like biotic and abiotic stresses by changing their physiology, biochemistry and morphology. The Stress Physiology group analyzes these responses on the transcriptional, metabolomical and physiological level.

Astrid Forneck is the leading expert in Grape-Phylloxera interaction. Aphids affect the plant’s metabolism significantly when feeding by inducing galls on the vine. Against this background, the major fields of study in this group comprise 

  • understanding the plant based responses affecting primary and secondary metabolism
  • the sink-source allocation and carbohydrate partitioning in the grapevine 
  • understanding signaling between rootstock and scions are
  • gaining insight about the aphids’ effectors
  • defining aggressivity of the phylloxera strains 
  • screening of European grapevine populations in terms of population dynamics
  • host plant adaptation and aggressivity 

In close cooperation with growers, nurseries and the international grapevine rootstock community, new management strategies are developed to adapt strategies for phylloxerated vineyard that are affected by abiotic stresses (e.g. drought, salt). 

The physiological ripening disorder Berry Shrivel (Traubenwelke) is a severe economic problem for viticulture in Austria, mainly affecting the cultivar Zweigelt. The causes of shrinking berries with low sugar content and high acidity after veraison are yet unknown. Michaela Griesser aims to understand the causes of this physiological disease by analyzing cell wall physiology and morphology of the rachis, sugar and nutrient transport mechanisms towards berries and the regulation by phytohormons. To provide a solid base of understanding, the effects on the fruit physiology of grapevine, the sink-source allocation of vines affected with abiotic stresses are studied, deploying  physiological, metabolimical and transcriptional means in field and controlled conditions. This is important as many vineyard management practices are in use without comprehensive knowledge of their implications on plant physiology in detail. 

Univ.Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck (group head)

Ass.Prof. Dr. Michaela Griesser (deputy group head)

Group: Sustainable Pomology and Viticulture

The work group develops strategies and solutions for improved and sustainable quality in Pomology and Viticulture. A main goal is the characterization of vitality by physiological and metabolites and biomarkers and the long-term increase of quality in fruits. Particular attention is paid to the development of sustainable cultivation strategies for Austrian conditions including environmental issues around organic production, soil and water use, quality, energy and biodiversity. 

The studies are conducted by Andreas Spornberger and Katharina Schödl-Hummel in field- and greenhouse experiments. Hereby, we monitor markers and screen the interaction of effects from management and environment. New markers, linked with quality parameters in fruits are going to be defined applying metabolomical tools. The group engages in the conservation and the utilization of genetic resources in fruit production, forest gardening and the use of edible plants in public spaces. In close cooperation with the fruit industry projects are conducted to provide solutions for risk management strategies in the field for both integrated and organic production, post-harvest, storage and technical usability of regionally produced fruits. 

Ass.Prof. Dr. Andreas Spornberger (group head)

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Katharina Schödl-Hummel (deputy group head)

Genotyping Platform for Viticulture & Pomology

The analysis of genomic material of grapes and fruit trees provides essential information for varietal diversity and clonal differentiation studies. Scientifically based analyses of leave, wood and root material give new insight of the background of genetic plant material in focus. The commercially available analyses have their backbone in standardised PCR protocols, automatic analyser and trained staff. 


Users provide leave, wood, root material or DNA at a standardized amount and the working team performs user's reactions and genotyping (fragment analysis) performance. If desired result interpretation can be requested. For genotyping, custom services, such as complete genotyping projects please contact:

Dr. Ulrike Anhalt (head)