Research Article

Integrating genomics into Eucalyptus breeding

Published: September 30, 2004
Genet. Mol. Res. 3 (3) : 369-379
Cite this Article:
(2004). Integrating genomics into Eucalyptus breeding. Genet. Mol. Res. 3(3): gmr0109.
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Abstract

The advent of high throughput genomic technologies has opened new perspectives in the speed, scale and detail with which one can investigate genes, genomes and complex traits in Eucalyptus species. A genomic approach to a more detailed understanding of important metabolic and physiological processes, which affect tree growth and stress resistance, and the identification of genes and their allelic variants, which determine the major chemical and physical features of wood properties, should eventually lead to new opportunities for directed genetic modifications of far-reaching economic impact in forest industry. It should be kept in mind, however, that basic breeding strategies, coupled with sophisticated quantitative methods, breeder’s experience and breeder’s intuition, will continue to generate significant genetic gains and have a clear measurable impact on production forestry. Even with a much more global view of genetic processes, genomics will only succeed in contributing to the development of improved industrial forests if it is strongly interconnected with intensive fieldwork and creative breeding. Integrated genomic projects involving multi-species expressed sequence tag sequencing and quantitative trait locus detection, single nucleotide polymorphism discovery for association mapping, and the development of a gene-rich physical map for the Eucalyptus genome will quickly move toward linking phenotypes to genes that control the wood formation processes that define industrial-level traits. Exploiting the full power of the superior natural phenotypic variation in wood properties found in Eucalyptus genetic resources will undoubtedly be a key factor to reach this goal.

The advent of high throughput genomic technologies has opened new perspectives in the speed, scale and detail with which one can investigate genes, genomes and complex traits in Eucalyptus species. A genomic approach to a more detailed understanding of important metabolic and physiological processes, which affect tree growth and stress resistance, and the identification of genes and their allelic variants, which determine the major chemical and physical features of wood properties, should eventually lead to new opportunities for directed genetic modifications of far-reaching economic impact in forest industry. It should be kept in mind, however, that basic breeding strategies, coupled with sophisticated quantitative methods, breeder’s experience and breeder’s intuition, will continue to generate significant genetic gains and have a clear measurable impact on production forestry. Even with a much more global view of genetic processes, genomics will only succeed in contributing to the development of improved industrial forests if it is strongly interconnected with intensive fieldwork and creative breeding. Integrated genomic projects involving multi-species expressed sequence tag sequencing and quantitative trait locus detection, single nucleotide polymorphism discovery for association mapping, and the development of a gene-rich physical map for the Eucalyptus genome will quickly move toward linking phenotypes to genes that control the wood formation processes that define industrial-level traits. Exploiting the full power of the superior natural phenotypic variation in wood properties found in Eucalyptus genetic resources will undoubtedly be a key factor to reach this goal.

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