Major Areas

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Marker-assisted selection in Eucalyptus

A network program with partners from Institutes, Forest Development Corporations and Paper Industries is underway to identify DNA markers tagging industrially important traits in Eucalyptus. In this endeavor, phenotypically characterized inter-specific mapping populations were developed and multi-environmental trials were established in different agro climatic zones. Precision phenotyping of the populations for wood property and adventitious rooting traits have been conducted. Genotyping using SNP/ SSR/InDels markers in parents and hybrids have been conducted and high density linkage maps have been constructed to identify QTL tagging wood property and adventitious rooting traits.

Genomics Assisted Conservation of Teak and Sandal Genetic Resources

Tree genetic resources support the human kind for several million years and their conservation is essential to acquire the benefits continuously. The objectives of conserving forest genetic resources are to safeguard the natural genetic variations of tree species for improving the productivity and adaptation to environmental changes. Teak and Sandal genetic resources (TGRs and SGRs) are dwindling in its natural habitats and their conservation requires identification of genetic diversity hotspots and delineation of potential management units. Population genomics offer methods to quantify adaptive genetic differentiation with reference to environment and phenophase variations. Thousands of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified for genotyping of teak and sandal germplasm through whole genome sequencing. Genomic data will be utilized for teak and sandal populations available in the country to infer the spatial patterns of adaptation for conservation, management and sustainable utilization.

Clonal propagation of industrially important species

The superior clones generated from the tree improvement/breeding programs of Eucalypts, Casaurinas, Melia, Acacia, Teak and Cadamba are multiplied for demonstration trials and clonal evaluation trails using minicutting techniques. Vegetative propagation facility also takes up large scale multiplication of IFGTB released clones of Casuarina junghuniana, Casuarina hybrids and Eucalyptus spp to popularize the high yielding clones developed by the institute based on the request from planting agencies, state forest departments and farmers.

Genetic improvement of Melia dubia

Under the Melia dubia Cav. improvement programme, IFGTB has undertaken extensive field surveys in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for selecting phenotypically superior trees based on growth and stem form. Plus trees were shortlisted for clonal assemblage. Seeds collected from selected single / plus trees, and from stands are maintained with identity for assessment of genetic diversity for designing orchards for production of quality seeds. Eight trials across three states have been laid out to assess the performance of the species across locations. Observations are made in the nursery and field trials to document and identify the key pest and disease problems. Descriptors and DUS testing guidelines are being developed for the species. A booklet covering all aspects of the species was brought in English and vernacular.

Micropropagation of important clonal accessions

Teak, the premier timber species face shortage of propagules in the form of seeds and vegetative cuttings. IFGTB is producing teak from selected germplasm through tissue culture. Early growth performance of these plants in farmlands shows promising results. These clones can be procured from IFGTB by placing orders 90 days in advance. IFGTB also propagates germplasm of bamboos identified by RFRI, Jorhat. The species include Bambusa nutans, B. tulda and Dendrocalamus giganteus.

Secondary metabolite production from medicinally important trees

Micropropagation protocols for Aegle marmelos, Oroxylum indicum, Gmelina arborea and Premna integrifolia have been developed. Successfully developed a cell culture protocol for in vitro production of secondary metabolites from Aegle marmelos, the efficacy of which was tested against plant and human pathogens in comparison with extracts from the wild trees. Presently hairy root cultures are being developed for Aegle marmelos, Oroxylum indicum and Gmelina arborea where root is the main part used.

Functional genetics and genetic engineering of trees for improved traits

The transgenic programme aims to evolve and apply tools of genetic/ genome engineering for understanding gene function and enhancing desired traits. The programme aims to evolve transgenic varieties of Eucalyptus and Casuarina for enhancing productivity in climate stressed areas like wastelands affected by salt and drought. Other traits of interest include insect tolerance and enhanced pulping efficiency. A composite transgenic strategy was developed in Eucalyptus for identifying major genes that could be used for engineering salt/drought tolerance. The composite transgenic strategy along with RNAi approach was used to identify EcHKT1:1 as a key gene regulating salt stress tolerance in Eucalyptus. To incorporate tolerance in Eucalyptus to the insect pest, Leptocybe invasa, a multigene targeting chimeric hpRNAi construct was developed based on transcriptome sequences generated from L. invasa. These RNAi constructs are now being used for evaluating their utility in generating transgenics with enhanced salt and insect tolerance.

DNA marker applications in Casuarina

In the species of Casuarina DNA markers systems like, RAPD, AFLP, SSR, ISSR and FISSR have been evaluated for genetic diversity analysis and population structure assessment.. Transcriptome analysis of wood core sample from Casuarina equisetifolia generated a total of 49,407,986 raw reads with average read length of 150bp. The contigs assembled was generated 26,985 unigenes with a total transcript length of 16,437,180 bp. A total of 2392 SSRs were identified from 2082 sequences, with 259 sequences containing more than 1 SSRs. Majority of the SSRs contained 8-12 repeats. This wood transcriptome resource is the first draft in C. equisetifolia. The complete cds of CCR gene identified in C. equisetifolia is ~969 bp and 8 paralogs of Cinnomoyl coA reductase gene (CCR) were identified. Apart from this seven other lignin biosynthetic pathway genes were identified. These results would support development of SNP markers for pulping traits.

DNA Isolation kit: ArborEasy®

DNA Isolation Kit provides an indigenous, non-biohazardous, low cost spin column based system for isolation of plant genomic DNA from wide range of tissue types, specifically challenging tissues from tree species. DNA. This technology was developed based on IFGTB-DBT joint patent. ArborEasy® is a registered trademark of IFGTB, Coimbatore, India. The performance of the kit has been extensively validated across National Laboratories. DNA isolated using this kit can be used for routine PCR analysis; high-throughput marker assays; next generation sequencing and SNaPshot analysis. The customized kit was used for Guinness World Record on “Most people conducting a DNA isolation experiment simultaneously” held at 4th India International Science Festival 2018 at Lucknow.