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David Sparks Ph.d Genetics
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: September 07, 2018

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Distinguished professor of forest biotechnology in the College of Forestry explains to me why he is doing genetic research on the eucalyptus tree. This researcher and his very powerful research team are manipulating genes in an effort to generate a modified species of Eucalyptus that has favorable qualities. “Among forest trees, the eucalyptus is either number one or number two, depending upon who is doing the counting of the most widely planted tree in the world. Probably number one is behind and number two, not far behind is eucalyptus. Globally in terms of wood in the global energy supply, it is huge. So When you know it’s genes, you have a blueprint to work from which helps guide conventional breeding because people sequence DNA all the time now, it’s pretty cheap, so there is huge progress going on to accelerate breeding for whatever trait it would be, quality of wood, pest resistance, growth rate itself through conventional breeding and then you also have genetic engineering so now if you have genes and you understand what you’re doing, we increasingly understand how genes control traits, so you can go in there and tweak it yourself rather than wait for just the right variant that mother nature gave you. These are all objectives of the breeding programs already. People are modifying Eucalyptus now. This is to customize them and make them better. This is a quantum leap in the scientific ability to do that. You have to have the blueprint and you have to know what you’re doing.”

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