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Forest Biotechnology: Its Place in the World

Forest biotechnology is on the cusp of scientific breakthrough. Great advances have been made in two of the three components of the science: asexual propagation and association genetics. The third component, genetic engineering, is in various stages of development. Genome sequencing, a segment of association genetics, has been done for only one forest tree, Populus tricocarpa, but a concerted effort is being made to gain the resources for sequencing loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Sequencing of that species, with a genome about seven times larger than that of the human genome, was once thought to be a prodigious task, but with advances in technology the prognosis is that the job can be completed in two to three years at a cost of $25 to $30 million. However, sequencing is only a start. The association and function of the genes, the bread and butter of the effort, can only be determined by meticulous laboratory and field testing.

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Author(s): Robert C. Kellison

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 2007