Paolo Sabbatini

Paolo Sabbatini

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Associate Professor
Department of Horticulture

(517) 353-0302



Quick links: Education    Publications    Research

Joined the Department



  • MS in Horticulture, 1997, University of Ancona (Italy)
  • Ph.D. in Horticulture, 2002, University of Ancona (Italy)
  • Post-Doctoral Study (2004-2007) Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University
  • 2007 Assistant professor of Horticulture


Research 60%
Extension 40%


Vine Physiology

Research activities focus on wine and juice grapes physiology under Michigan cool climate conditions. The main objective is identifying environmental, physiological and cultural factors that limit vine growth and development, fruit maturity and quality. In particular a) photosynthetic carbon assimilation and partitioning, b) effect of biotic and abiotic stress on vine yield and fruit quality, and c) natural carbon isotope discrimination. The ultimate research goal is to solve whole plant physiological problems that will optimize grape productivity and fruit quality in the field.


Cultural factors limiting vine growth, sustainable yield, fruit maturity and quality are the main areas of research. Canopy management, crop estimation and adjustment and vineyard mechanization are primary focus to better control cultural and physiological factors important for efficient production of high-value grapes.

Cultivar Evaluation

Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council (MGWIC) aims to increase wine grape production up to 10,000 acres and 3 million cases of Michigan-produced wines annually by 2024. As of 2007, over 53 wineries have been established in Michigan in traditional production regions such as Northern and Southwest Michigan, and less traditional areas such as West Central, South East, Eastern and the Upper Peninsula. The successful expansion of wine grape production will depend on the possibility to grow appropriate varieties for site characteristics. Therefore variety recommendations are crucial and they are based on genetic performance tested in variety trials for Vitis vinifera and mixed species (hybrids) planted in the state of Michigan.

Selected Publications

Sabbatini P. and G.S. Howell. 2010. Effects of early defoliation on yield, fruit composition and harvest season cluster rot complex of grapevines. HortScience 45:1804-1808.

Sabbatini P., G.S. Howell and J.A. Wolpert. 2010. Effects of early defoliation on growth, yield and harvest season cluster rot. Italus Hortus 17: 27-32.

Sabbatini P., G.S. Howell, J.A. Wolpert and L. Tozzini. 2012. Scion rootstock interactions respect to vine size, phenology and cold hardiness of grapevines. Progres Agricole and Viticole  8:183-190.

Sabbatini P., G.S. Howell, K. Striegler, J.A. Wolpert and L. Tozzini. 2012. Assessing grapevine cold hardiness status using cane morphology indicators. Italus Hortus  3:171-175.

Filo A., P. Sabbatini, G. Sundin, T. Zabadal. G. Safir and P. Cousins. 2013. Grapevine crown gall suppression using genetic engineering and biological control: A review of recent research. Amer. J. Enol. Vitic. 64: 1 pp 1-14.

Tozzini. L. and P. Sabbatini. 2013. Increasing nitrogen availability at veraison through foliar applications: implications for leaf assimilation and fruit ripening under source limitation. HortScience, Vol 48(5) pp 608-613.

Sabbatini P. and G.S. Howell. 2013. Rootstock scion interaction and effects on vine vigor, phenology and cold hardiness of inter-specific hybrid grape cultivars (Vitis spp.). International Journal of Fruit Science, 13:4 pp 466-477.

Palliotti A., Sabbatini P., Panara F., Silvestroni O., Lanari V., Howell G.S., Gatti M. and Poni S. (2013) Influence of Mechanical Post-Veraison Leaf Removal Apical to the Cluster Zone on Delay of Fruit Ripening in Sangiovese (Vitis vinifera L.) Grapevines. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, Volume 19, Issue 3,  pp 369–377.

Sabbatini P., G.S. Howell and J.C. Herrera. 2013. Ibridi di Vitis; storia, status e futuro. Italus Hortus 20 (2) pp 33-43.

Palliotti A., Panara F., Famiani F., Sabbatini P., Howell G.S., Silvestroni S. and Poni S. 2013. Post-Veraison Application of Film-forming Antitranspirant Di-1-p-menthene to Control Sugar Accumulation in Field-grown Sangiovese (Vitis vinifera L.) Grapevines. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 64(3): pp 378-385.

Endeshaw, S. T., Sabbatini, P., Gianfranco Romanazzi, G., Schilder, A. C., and Neri, D. 2014 Effects of grapevine leafroll (GRLaV-3) infection on growth, leaf gas exchange, yield and basic fruit chemistry of cv. Cabernet Franc (Vitis vinifera L.) grapevines. Scientia Horticulturae 170 pp 228-236.

Zhuang S, P. Sabbatini, Tozzini L., Green A., Acimovic D, Howell and S. Castellarin. 2014. Impact of cluster thinning and basal leaf removal on fruit quality of Cabernet Franc (Vitis vinifera L.) grapevines grown in cool climate conditions. HortScience Vol 49(6); pp750-756

Schultze R.S, P. Sabbatini and J.A. Andresen. 2014. Spatial and temporal study of climatic variability on grape production in southwestern Michigan. Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 65:2 pp 179-188.