Geneticists reveal keys to tree's woodmaking process

June 5, 2011 |

In Finland, researchers led by by Professor and Research Director Yrjö Helariutta have discovered the genetic process that controls the development of wood cells in the roots of plants. Xylem (wood cells) is the vascular tissue that transports water and nutrients upward from the root, also contributing to the formation of the woody element in the stem.  The results show that the interaction between two hormones controls the extent to which wood forms in the root. In addition to altering the movement of these hormones, the researchers altered the plants’ ability to perceive them.

This resulted in plants with deficient or excessive wood tissue. Wood cells are rich in cellulose.  Cellulose can be used as feedstock for biochemicals or biofuels.  The forestry industry could also benefit from trees with wood properties that have been modified to meet the needs of process technology.  The research was carried out using a small weed, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

The group has plans to apply the results to commercially relevant species, such as forest trees and rice.  The research was carried out as part of a European Research Network aimed at bringing together research institutions to stimulate economic growth, competitiveness and sustainability.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , ,

Category: Research

Thank you for visting the Digest.