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Genetic Analysis of Eucalyptus

More than just food for koalas: Genetic analysis of eucalyptus yields insight into tree’s potential for fuel, fiber


From antiseptic oils to the construction of didgeridoos, the traditional Australian Aboriginal wind instrument, the eucalyptus tree serves myriad purposes, accounting for its status as one of the world’s most widely planted hardwood trees. Its prodigious growth habit has caught the eyes of researchers seeking to harness and improve upon eucalyptus’s potential for enhancing sustainable biofuels and biomaterials production and to provide a stable year-round source of biomass that doesn’t compete with food crops.

As reported in the June 12, 2014, edition of the journal Nature, the international effort to sequence and analyze the 640 million base pair genome of Eucalyptus grandis engaged more than 80 researchers from 30 institutions representing 18 countries. The project was led by Zander Myburg of the University of Pretoria (South Africa); Dario Grattapaglia of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and Catholic University of Brasilia; Gerald Tuskan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the BioEnergy Science Center, and the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI); Dan Rokhsar of the DOE JGI; and Jeremy Schmutz of the DOE JGI and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Read more at ORNL features.

Image caption: Eucalyptus trees. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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