"One of the problems is the lack of knowledge of the type, architecture and distribution of resin producing, storing and transporting structures in the tree. Such knowledge is needed for improved tapping techniques in the future."
The study, published this month in the Annals of Botany, provides this detailed knowledge for the first time.
Motuma Tolera said, "What we found was a 3-D network of inter-connected canals in the inner bark. Most of these canals are within a very narrow region of the inner bark, in a zone that is less than 7 millimeters thick. These allow for the transport of resin around the tree. We also found a few canals connecting deep into the xylem, the heart of the tree."
The findings will have practical applications for the people of Ethiopia and other frankincense producers. Traditional tapping starts with a shallow wound, from which a relatively small amount of resin is released. The wound is then re-opened later with a cut that goes a bit deeper and more resin is collected a process that is repeated over and over again. The amount of resin collected peaks after about 5 rounds of tapping, which the study suggests is the point at which the wound reaches the main region of resin canals.
Motuma Tolera says, "Our results suggest that tapping can become more efficient. A cut that goes deeper, earlier in the tapping cycle, may drain the resin more effectively. Since the 3-D resin canal network may allow for long distance movement of resin when it is intact, this would be an option to reduce the number of cuts, and reduce the damage to the trees. New studies will be needed to show how such improvements may keep trees healthy but still productive for resin production. This opens new ways for a more sustainable
|Contact: Annals of Botany|
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