Adelaide's plant scientists at CSIRO in Urrbrae are using genetic technology to accelerate the selection and creation of new vine varieties with salt-tolerant roots.
CSIRO researcher Dr. Mandy Walker says genetic technology is a "fantastic tool."
"Our vineyard transformation technology speeds up the breeding process and allows us to make better choices along the way," she said.
"We selected the best parents for crosses and tested vines at a very early stage, without having to go to the field and put salt in the vines.
"So we can have confidence in our selection and know how that affects the vine."
In the case of salinity tolerance, the team identified the critical gene to exclude sodium and showed that it prevents excess salt from passing through the roots of the plant to the stem, leaves and berries.
They are now looking at the rootstocks of various species to enter the breeding program.
Dr. Walker says it is "satisfying and exciting" work.
"I'm happy to be able to do this and contribute in some way."