Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Sequence and Analyze Eucalyptus Genome

June 18, 2014

More than 80 researchers from 30 institutions in 18 countries have sequenced and analyzed the genome of Eucalyptus grandis. The Eucalyptus genome has 640 million DNA base pairs, containing 36,000 genes.

The eucalyptus team identified genes encoding the 18 final enzymatic steps for the production of cellulose and the hemicellulose xylan, both cell wall carbohydrates that can be used for biofuel production. Results also revealed an ancient whole-genome duplication event estimated to have occurred about 110 million years ago, as well as an unusually high proportion of genes in tandem duplicate arrays.

The researchers also found that among sequenced plants to date, Eucalyptus showed the highest diversity of genes for specialized metabolites such as terpenes, hydrocarbons that serve as chemical self-defenses against pests, as well as providing the familiar aromatic essential oils used in both medicinal cough drops and for industrial processes.

For more details about this research, read the news release at http://jgi.doe.gov/just-food-koalas-eucalyptus-global-tree-fuel-fiber/