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Content archived on 2024-05-18

The application of cdna microarray technology for unraveling molecular events underlying dormancy and cold hardiness in forest tree seedlings.

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Refilling forests courtesy of the DNA array

Large numbers of healthy tree seedlings are grown for use in reforestation projects. Biologists working under the auspices of the Coldtree project developed techniques that can help develop seedlings best suited to local climate conditions.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

The Coldtree project supported the work of plant nurseries by developing cost-efficient tests for identifying molecular mechanisms in beech (Fagus sylvatica) seedlings. The mechanisms studied included winter hardening and dormancy; winter hardening being the growing tolerance of plants to freezing temperatures. Due to a lack of data on the DNA sequence of beech and other molecular information two subtraction libraries were created by researchers. Subtracted libraries contain DNA clones of a particular tissue type, in this case beech seedling bud tissue, rather than the whole plant. One library was established for actively growing material, which was collected during spring and summer. The other library comprised material collected in the winter during the period of dormancy when genes for cold hardiness would be active. Project partners Agrotechnology & Food Innovations BV, from Wageningen in the Netherlands, used the subtraction libraries to develop microarray for characterising beech bud DNA. The results gave scientists a clearer insight into the biological processes taking place in beech seedlings by revealing the molecular mechanisms behind winter hardening, dormancy, and bud development. Researchers believe that the microarray was the first for beech seedling bud tissue. A greater understanding of underlying molecular processes can help the development of reliable tools for rapidly identifying genes with beneficial traits. The selected genes will be used for future tests that will enable plant nurseries to grow larger numbers of improved forest tree seedlings with reduced costs. This will benefit both the local economy and the environment within Europe's forested areas.

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