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.
This follows on a team of international researchers, led by Prof Zander Myburg from the Department of Genetics and the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria (UP) in collaboration with the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) making available the complete genome sequence of the forest tree species, Eucalyptus grandis. It took the team, who had the support of a network of more than 130 Eucalyptus researchers from 18 countries, four years to complete the genome sequence and annotate more than 40,000 genes contained within it. According to Prof Myburg, these scientists, as well as countries with commercial eucalypt plantations will be the primary beneficiaries of the genome sequence now available on the internet (http://www.phytozome.net/eucalyptus.php). The Eucalyptus research community will continue to add value to the genome sequence in order to make it more accessible to the broader scientific community. Publication of the genome sequence in a scientific journal is expected to take place by early 2012.
A genome sequence can be compared to a blueprint or very complex programming code containing a complete set of instructions for the development and functioning of an organism. The code is written in DNA, which is organised into chromosomes and genes and can be found in every cell of a living organism. But it is the unique sequence and expression of the genes in eucalypt trees that make them such efficient producers of woody biomass.
Once an organism's genome is sequenced (E. grandis' genome is about 640 million DNA base pairs long), researchers can trace genes involved in important characteristics lik
|Contact: Prof. Zander Myburg|
University of Pretoria