'Genome knife' is the latest tool in wine merchants' arsenals

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A so-called 'genome knife' is scientists' latest contribution to wine merchants' arsenals of wine-making tools, and could lead to a wider choice of positive benefits when you buy wine in the years to come.

Many wine drinkers are already aware of ongoing research into the possible advantages of consuming resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and linked with a broad array of health boosts, including a reduction in cardiovascular risk.

But making wines with higher concentrations of resveratrol has been difficult because, when you alter one gene in a strain of yeast, original copies of that same gene typically counteract the changes you have made.

Now scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a 'genome knife' to cut across the full genome precisely, leaving all copies of the gene altered.

"With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by ten times or more," said principal investigator Yong-Su Jin.

"But we could also add metabolic pathways to introduce bioactive compounds from other foods, such as ginseng, into the wine yeast."

This means, when you buy wine in the future, your local wine merchants might have even more to offer than they already do - including a much higher dietary intake of resveratrol.