My PhD work included characterizing wild Vitis germplasm for use in grapevine rootstock breeding programs. Specifically, my research focused on the evolution of chloride exclusion in wild grapevines from the southwest US, and how we can use these materials to breed more salt-tolerant rootstocks. I am still interested in the population dynamics of these species in the wild – extensive hybridization, long-distance migration via birds, and gene flow from cultivated vineyards all lead to challenges for germplasm utilization and conservation. I am currently working conserving grape germplasm in the Central Valley of California.
Claire Heinitz, Ph.D.