The Impressive Eucalyptus Tree and Its Genome

The Impressive Eucalyptus Tree and Its Genome

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted July 6, 2007 in DNA in General

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area*, I can’t think of home without remembering the scent of eucalyptus trees. Wherever you go in the Bay Area, you’ll find these towering trees with their trailing leaves, peeling bark, and baby smooth tree trunk.

IMG 3008

Aside from giving us enjoyment (my son is shaping airplanes from the bark in the picture above), the eucalyptus tree serves a wide number of functions:

  • Eucalyptus fibers are used for paper and other products.
  • Its hardwood is used in construction and furniture.
  • The tree captures excess atmospheric carbon.
  • Eucalyptus oil is used in a number of over-the-counter health products such as medicated rubs and inhalers.
  • The eucalyptus tree genome will also be the next, and only the second, tree genome to be sequenced.

The Eucalyptus Genome Network (EUCAGEN) will be leading the sequencing efforts. Consortium coordinator Zander Myburg of the University of Pretoria, South Africa:

Sequencing the Eucalyptus genome will help us overcome many of the major obstacles toward achieving a sustainable energy future. Embedded in this information is the molecular circuit map for superior growth and adaptation in woody plants that can be optimized for biomass production. Its unique evolutionary history, keystone ecological status, and adaptation to marginal environments make Eucalyptus the focus of choice for expanding our knowledge of the evolution and adaptive biology of all perennial plants.

Who knew the eucalyptus tree was so impressive?

*Last year, the city of San Francisco approved a plan to remove eucalyptus trees and other non-native plant species in an attempt to preserve the City’s natural habitat.

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