Master Thesis (topics offered)


List of Master Theses 2017

Department of Crop Sciences,
Division of Viticulture and Pomology,
Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck

1) "Chemical Imaging" der Nährstoffaufnahme von Unterlagsreben

Chemical imaging of nutrient uptake in grapevine rootstocks   

Grapevine rootstocks have different properties, depending on the Vitis ssp. cross combination used. One of the important traits is lime tolerance directly affecting nutrient uptake. Many vineyards in Austria have high lime contents and specific rootstocks are recommended for these areas, as e.g. Fercal or 41B. The mechanism for Fe uptake has been well described in many plant species but much less is known about other nutrients. In Grapevine we have a broad variability in responses to high lime contents and but the specific mechanisms behind this variability are not well studied so far.

The experiment will be conducted in “rhizo” boxes with two grapevine rootstocks differing in their lime tolerance. Plant will be grown in low and high lime content soils. Analyses of root uptake will be conducted with chemical imaging (DGTs followed by Laser ICP-MS). Physiological measurements (Chlorophyll fluorescence, gas exchange) will be conducted and plant material will be collected for further analyses.   

Students: should have basic lab experience.

Start: April 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Walter Wenzel, Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck; Dr. Michaela Griesser

2) Wie beeinflusst die Reblausinfizierung von Rebwurzeln die Nährstoff Aufnahme?

Are there effects of phylloxera infestation duing nutrient uptake in grapevine roots?

Root feeding of phylloxera is inducing gall formation on root tips call nodosities. These nodosities are highly active tissue becoming a strong sink for assimilates and other resources. Nothing is known so far, how and to which extent nutrient uptake is affected by phylloxeration and how the pH of the rhizosphere and the respiration of the roots are changed. 

The experiment will be conducted in “rhizo” boxes with control and phylloxerated plants. Analyses of root uptake will be conducted with chemical imaging (DGTs followed by Laser ICP-MS). Physiological measurements (Chlorophyll fluorescence, gas exchange) will be conducted and plant material will be collected for further analyses.   

Students: should have basic lab experience.

Start: April 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck; Prof. Dr. Walter Wenzel; Dr. Michaela Griesser

3) Induktion von Traubenwelke in der Rebe an dem neuen "Fruiting Cutting" System durch Stressbehandlung

Stress Treatment on "Fruiting Cutting" to induce Berry Shrivel in Grapevine 

Fruiting cuttings in grapevine are a tool to perform berry physiology studies in greenhouse without the necessity to use several year old plants. The system starts with wood cuttings and grape formation is induced to due light and temperature conditions. The advantage is that grape berries are available early as well as throughout the vegetative period. 

After a literature research the system should be established and evaluated with three different grapevine varieties under standardized conditions. According to the literature research different growth conditions should be tested and verified to establish an optimized protocol for all three varieties. Growth and quality parameters should be analyzed as well as basic markers for fruit development (e.g. sugars, enzymes) as compared to grapes grown outside. Additionally stress treatments will be applied to induce the physiological ripening disorder Berry Shrivel.

Students: all students are welcome.

Start: March 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln

Advisors: Dr. Michaela Griesser; Dr. Stefania Savoi; Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck

4) Effekte von Staunässe auf die Beerenphysiologie bei V. vin. cv. Zweigelt

Physiological effects of waterlogging in grapevine

Changing environmental conditions are influencing perennial plants specifically. Recently we war phasing weather extremes with prolonged drought periods and extreme heavy rain events. Anaerobic conditions due to wet conditions are affecting roots substantially and for a longer period. Plants have to invest resources to build up new roots to regain functional root tips. 

Experiments with potted grafted grapevine plants will be conducted in the greenhouse under controlled conditions. The response of  V. vin. cv. Zweigelt) to waterlogging will be conducted with different treatments. Physiological measurement will be obtained throughout the testing period and plant material will be harvested for further analyses. 

Students: all students are welcome.

Start: May 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln

Advisors: Dr. Michaela Griesser; Dr. Carlos Herrera; Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck

7) Die Mesofauna als wichtiger Faktor für den Abbau organischer Substanz in Weingärten

Mesofauna communities in vineyards

Different groups of the Mesofauna have important ecological functions in degrading the organic matter in soils. The mesofauna is also interacting with the soil microorganisms and both have therefore important functions in nutrient cycling. The awareness of the importance of the processes in soils for a sustainable production system is increasing. Specific knowledge is needed to evaluate the effects of management practices in vineyards. 

Experiments will be conducted in different vineyards with different cover management. Extractions will be performed with the Berlese Tullgren funnel and related to the vegetation types and biomass. Additionally simple platting techniques will be applied to determine the microbial community. 

Students: all students are welcome.

Start: April 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln, Vineyards & Lab

Advisors: Dr. Michaela Griesser; M.sc. Rudi Rizzoli, Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck

8) Käfer als wichtige Indikatoren für Biodiversität in Weingärten

Carabid beetles as indicators for biodiversity in vineyards

Carabid beetles are suitable bioindicators, as they have an important role as predators and react strongly to changes in their environment, as heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides and changes in the vegetation management. In vineyards the techniques applied for in-row and inter-row management can therefor influence the abundance of carabid species. Biodiversity is an important ecosystem service and vineyards as perennial crops can enhance biodiversity if management in a sustainable way. A 3-years project is analyzing the effects of inter-row management on different biodiversity parameters in vineyards in Lower Austria and Burgenland. In 2015 and 2016 pitfall traps were used to catch the macrofauna at different timepoints during the vegetation period. A special focus is thereby led on carabid beetles species. 

Within the master thesis the carabid beetles collected in 2015 and 2016 should be determined to the species level and should be correlated to other biodiversity parameters and ecosystem functions as seed predation, mesofauna abundance, vegetation cover and soil parameters.

Students: all students are welcome.

Start: sofort (immediately)
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln LAB

Advisors: Dr. Michaela Griesser; Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck

10) Populationsgenetische Studien bei Rebläusen in Österreich und Deutschland: Effekte von Klima und Boden

Studies on population genetics of phylloxera populations in Austria and Germany: impact on climate and soils

Cooperation: BOKU Vienna/AT & Weinbau Institut Freiburg/DE

Climatic conditions and host plants affect the populations structure of phylloxera populations in viticultural areas. In Hungary the cultivation system of „sandy soils“ has been widely established to grow vines own-rooted and maintain this management system despite phylloxera infestation. 

This study will analyse the distribution and spreas of phylloxera strains among various viticultural areas and climate zones and respect feeding habits and host plants. All results will be implemented in the PHYLLI database which in return allow comparisons with the existing strains European-wide. Furthermore the results will be the first step to genetically differentiate phylloxera biotypes (A vs. C). 

Students: need lab experience and must like to travel and dig in vineyards.

Start: May 2017
Duration: 6 months
Location: Sampling in Hungary, lab work at UFT in Tulln/AT

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck (BOKU); Dr. M. Breuer (WBI Freiburg)

11) Regulated vs Sustained deficit irrigation effect on grape composition

Sustained deficit irrigation is a common practice applied in the vineyard to improve berry quality. It is well known that the key phenological stage to strongly modify berry metabolism is pre-veraison, while positive effects of post-veraison water stress remains unclear and variable. Moreover, irrigation in post-veraison stages is often considered as detrimental by viticulturist because the so-called “dilution” effect.

The experiment will be conducted in two-years old Grüner Vetliner potted grapevines. Plants will be subjected to three different water regimes (well-water control irrigated 100% ETc, sustained deficit irrigation 35% ETc from 40 days after anthesis and until harvest, and regulated deficit irrigation 35% ETc from 40 days after anthesis and until full veraison, thereafter irrigated 100% ETc). Plant physiology (leaf area, gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, water potential) and berry development (berry mass, volume, and basic composition) will be assessed during the growing season, and plant material will be collected for further analyses. 

Students: should have basic lab experience.

Start: May 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln

Advisors: Dr. Jose Carlos Herrera, Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck; Dr. Michaela Griesser

12) Cluster development and rachis architecture in Vitis vinifera L.

Cluster development and rachis architecture play key roles in the determination of the yield and quality of grapes. Rachis architecture is an important factor in the determination of cluster compactness (or cluster density), which has been widely related to the incidence of important vineyard pests and diseases (e.g.: gray mold or berry moth), especially under humid and cold winegrowing conditions. However, and despite its relevance in practical viticulture, little is known about its genetic basis.

 The objective of this work is to study the range of genetic diversity for a series of traits related to cluster development and rachis architecture in the cultivated grapevine. To this aim, a series of Pinot noir clones differing in cluster architecture and a set of wine- and table-grape grapevine cultivars will be extensively phenotyped from budburst to harvest time to establish differences in their development and in different rachis traits. These analyses will pave the way to foster further studies on fundamental and applied genetics in grapevine.    

Students: all students are welcome, interest in breeding is appreciated

Start: May 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln, Vienna Jedlersdorf

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck; Dr. Javier Tello

13) Evaluation of the reproductive performance in grapevine clones and cultivars.

Flowering and fruit set processes are key determinants in the reproductive behavior in the cultivated grapevine, having direct effects on crop yield and grape quality. Poor fruit set rates can limit the yield in certain regions, but (if excessive) can lead to very compact clusters more prone to diverse rots. These processes are the result of diverse genetically-programmed features, which are shaped to some extent by environmental and cultural factors.

The aim of this work is to evaluate the reproductive performance in the cultivated grapevine by analyzing a series of traits from budburst to harvest time (e.g. inflorescences per plant, flowers per inflorescence, berries per cluster, fruit set rate, coulure and millerandage rates, berry weight, seeds per berry, etc.) in a set of Pinot noir clones and in different wine- and table-grape cultivars. Differences in their reproductive performance will be assessed for future studies aimed to analyze their genetic determinism. 

Students: all students are welcome, interest in breeding is appreciated

Start: May 2017
Duration: 6 months 
Location: UFT Tulln, Vienna Jedlersdorf

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck; Dr. Javier Tello

15) Implementierung des österreichischen Nachhaltigkeitstools im Betrieb Domäne Wachau

Implementation of the Austrian sustainability certification tool in the "Domäne Wachau"

The Austrian wine growers association has been offering a sustainability certification online tool for innovative wineries since the 2015 harvest. This is intended to promote sustainable viticulture in Austria. The Austrian wine marketing company supports this program with a specially designed logo and advertising campaign. 

The “Domäne Wachau” would like to participate and to become certified. The aim of this master thesis is to examine what measures are required to get the data from all approx. 450 member companies and to develop an internal tool that allows an implementation into the official sustainability tool. This activity is also financially supported by the “Domäne Wachau”. 

Start: February 2017

Duration: 6 months
Location: UFT Tulln, Domäne Wachau, Wineries in Wachau

Advisors: Mag. Franz Rosner;  Dr. Michaela Griesser;  Prof. Dr. Astrid Forneck