The trees of the future may stem from advances in gene discovery research at Purdue University that could lead to domesticated trees, the forestry equivalent of crop plants like corn and soybeans.
The blue color in the veins of the leaf pictured may contain the key to the trees of the future, says Purdue scientist Rick Meilan, who uses a type of molecular flag that produces a blue substance in his research in tree gene discovery. Meilan suggests his research could lead to the development of ideal characteristics, such as insect resistance or improved wood production, in trees that could be domesticated or "farmed," reducing the need to log wilderness areas. (Photo/Andrew Groover, USDA Forest Service, Institute of Forest Genetics, Davis, Calif.)
"I think this is the future of forestry," said Richard Meilan, an associate professor of molecular physiology with Purdues Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center who has demonstrated a way to rapidly identify genes in poplar trees and determine their function.
"Our goal in gene discovery is to domesticate trees, just like we have domesticated corn over the past 5,000 years," he said. "If we can produce trees for specific purposes, like making furniture or plywood, and intensively manage those trees like agricultural row crops, we can make more efficient use of our limited land resources without treading on wilderness areas."
Jennifer Cutraro | Purdue News
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