On Wed, 19 Aug 1998 09:19:50 -0700, Mike Hagen <mhagen at olympus.net>
>All we can talk about is what we have seen. Out here, very little if
>any new style genetically improved stock is showing up in the field.
>The local nurseries use methods (and very successfully too) that were
>perfected in the 50s.
>Yes, but some companies, such as Westvaco, are coming very close to
implementing transformed and cloned material. Someone was telling me
that one lab was able to turn off lignin production in a Populus
experiment by something like 80%, resulting in a MUCH greater amount
of fiber production (the tree was significantly larger than controls,
and wasn't flopping over either).
Industry, such as the paper industry, often spends a lot on capital
improvements to improve production efficiency by 1 or 2%. Once the
technology is perfected, biotech, with relatively low capital
investments, has the potential of improving the production efficiency
of its raw material by 25% or better. You bet that these people are
Of course if you have to totally knock out sexual reproduction of
released transgenic plants, things are going to slow down a bit (think
_Jurassic Park_, only with trees). Add to this a yet to be defined
"minimum necessary genetic diversity per stand", and you begin to
wonder if we will see it in our lifetimes.
But outside the realm of transformation and other genetic
manipulations, cloned material may be available on a wide-spread basis
But yes, little can be done to improve on the old-fashioned means of
reproduction, which will never be totally replaced (at least with
people, I hope ;-))