Eucalyptus genetic secrets unlocked

Jul 26, 2011

The world’s most farmed tree has had its genome read, opening the way to new breeding, biofuel, and conservation opportunities.

The genome of one of Australia’s biggest trees, the Flooded Gum or Eucalyptus grandis, has now been mapped, allowing scientists and conservationists an insight into the secrets of an important piece of Australiana.

Eucalyptus has become the most popular plantation tree in the world – with millions of hectares planted in Africa, America, Europe and Asia. That’s one of the reasons that the global community chose a eucalyptus species to map.

In a joint project by the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Eucalyptus Genome Network ( coordinated by Prof. Zander Myburg from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, the genetic code of a specimen of Flooded Gum from Brazil has been mapped and released to researchers.

An international meeting of scientists will be held in Melbourne today, as part of the XVIII International Botanical Congress, to discuss opportunities for research resulting from this important milestone. Australian tree breeders will also be briefed.

“This is one the biggest boosts to forest research in Australia that we have ever had,” explains Professor Bill Foley from the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University.

“Eucalyptus grandis is only the second forest tree to have its full genome mapped. It is an important tree in forests along the east coast of New South Wales and Queensland and a valuable fibre resource worldwide. It is also being considered for biofuel programs both here and overseas.”

The Flooded Gum is one of biggest flowering plants in the world, growing up to 85 metres tall, yet it has a relatively small genome of about 600 million letters of code – about one fifth the length of the human genome.

“This mapping is the first step to understanding the variety seen in Eucalyptus, allowing us to select the optimum trees for future environments,” Professor Foley said.

“Decoding the of one of Australia’s grandest is a gift to researchers and conservationists. It is fitting that its secrets should be unlocked in the International Year of the Forests.” Professor Foley concluded.

Explore further: Free the seed: OSSI nurtures growing plants without patent barriers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists to sequence Eucalyptus genome

Jul 05, 2007

An ambitious international effort has been launched today to decode the genome of Eucalyptus, one of the world’s most valuable fibre and paper-producing trees.

Eucalyptus tree genome deciphered

May 12, 2011

The key to the survival of forestry in South Africa as well as many new possibilities for renewable bioproducts like biofuels and biopolymers may now be available with the click of a mouse.

GE eucalyptus tree investigation urged

Jun 15, 2007

Several U.S. environmental groups are upset concerning a possible link between a pathogenic fungus and genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.

Genome of symbiotic tree fungus sequenced

Jul 25, 2006

U.S. government scientists have completed DNA sequencing of a fungus that forms a beneficial symbiosis with trees in North American and Eurasian forests.

Ask the Eucalyptus connoisseurs

Nov 23, 2010

Koalas may be the pickiest marsupials around: They evolved to feed almost exclusively on the leaves of Eucalyptus trees, and they are highly selective when it comes to which species and even which individual trees they visit. ...

Paper industry tests genetically altered trees

Jun 07, 2010

The commercial paper industry's plans to plant forests of genetically altered eucalyptus trees in seven Southern states has generated more cries from critics worried that such a large introduction of a bioengineered ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

( —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

( —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.