forest biotech

Rod Savidge savidge at unb.ca
Wed Apr 7 13:56:23 EST 1999


I've just joined this group as a biochemist/physiologist working on wood
formation in trees.  I'm not up on past topics but would be interested
to
know what research, if any, ecophysiologists are doing in relation to
the
possible impacts of transgenic trees on forest ecosystems.  

The biotech emphasis over the last decade clearly has been on increasing
fibre productivity, with secondary attention being given to making trees
more resistant to insects and diseases.  Is anyone concerned with the
ecological ramifications of replacing natural forest plantations with
transgenic ones?  For example, a major thrust in forest biotech has been
to
modify both the content and chemistry of lignin produced by the tree, so
that wood can be more readily pulped.  This is both economically and
environmentally (reduced pulping chemicals and waste per unit pulp)
highly
innovative.  On the other hand, the importance of the living (or dead)
tree
in the forest extends far beyond being a machine to generate raw
material
for the daily newspaper.   Is anyone looking at the roles of lignin in
terms of habitat or food- chain effects and how decreased, or chemically
modified, lignin could affect other organisms hence the functioning of
the
whole ecosystem?

I'd very much appreciate being advised about any ongoing or past
research
in this area.

Rod Savidge
E-mail: savidge at unb.ca
Phone:  (506) 453-4919
Fax:    (506) 453-3538
Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management
University of New Brunswic
Fredericton, NB CANADA E3B 6C2



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