Excerpt: "in natural forest where a tree can live for more than 100 years,
tyloses are vital. In a plantation environment . . . this protection is
So the idea is to genetically engineer trees whose heartwood is
more open to disease because, hey, it's done on tree plantations and it
And when the pollen blows in the wind and new trees miles away, even
hundreds of miles away, become less resistant to disease -- well, that will
be called an "unforseen consequence."
Jim Diamond M.D
Sierra Club GE cttee
Media Release, June 14 2005
Tree Genes for Finer Furniture.
The discovery of a gene in eucalyptus believed to control wood formation
could help scientists breed better trees for furniture making.
Dr. Lawrie Wilson and Dr.Gerd Bossinger from the University of Melbourne's
School of Forest and Ecosystem Science have isolated a tree gene with
direct links to heartwood formation. Heartwood is the wood that makes up
the inner, dead part of the tree that is used for building and joinery.
The new research at Creswick in Victoria suggests the gene's main job is
making chemicle plugs that stop micro-organisms from entering the heartwood
where they can trigger diseases.
The plugs, called tyloses, are important for the long-term health of the
tree, but are the bane of the timber processing industry because they are a
barrier to the chemicles needed for preserving and treating timber for
construction and fine furniture.
The aim of the research is to use molecular techniques to regulate the
production of tyloses to make timber processing easier, cheaper and with
less chemical waste.
According to Dr. Bossinger, in natural forest where a tree can live for
more than 100 years, tyloses are vital. In a plantation environment where
the rotation is 30-50 years for timber used in furniture or construction,
and just 15 for pulpwood, this protection is less important.
"If we understand how genes control tylosis formation, less valuable
species, or younger and poorer quality trees could become easier to treat,
increasing their versatility and value, " says Dr. Bossinger.
"At the moment, finding and and optimising these traits is inefficient."
"Tree plantations are the way ahead for Australia, but farming trees is
radically different from growing crops or traditional livestock," says Dr.
"Forest scientists are at the stage farmers were about 10,000 years ago.
< This would be a contender for the title 'wildest statement of the
year'. Forestry has been making numerous uses of science and modern
< And the notion we are immediately presented with - that in
order to surge forth from the stone age forestry must be invaded by tree-GM
- is obnoxiously unreasonable.
Our use of modern molecular techniques should mean we won't have to wait
another 10,000 years to reach the same understanding of tree breeding," he
"Australia's timber industry should strive for diversity. An understanding
of the molecular processes involved in heartwood and tylosis formation
could provide a range of novel timber resources for construction and fine
A full account of this research will be published in the July edition of
the University of Melbourne's 'Research Review".
< This is another example of wrongful premature publication of
claims when other scientists cannot assess the claims in the light of the
facts & reasoning yet to be presented by the claimiants.
The University of Melbourne's School of Forest and Ecosystem Science is
located near Daylesford, at Creswick.