Tuesday at the International Botanical Congress

Botanical Congress, Media releases

The world’s favourite tree

The world loves our eucalypts. Now Eucalyptus had become the world’s favourite tree for farming and today in Melbourne its genome is revealed at the International Botanical Congress.

Other stories today include: a series of talks on how plants will respond to climate change; more on the future of wine and the Breathing Planet Programme.

Eucalyptus genetic secrets unlocked

The world’s most farmed tree gets its genome read, opening the way to new breeding, biofuel, and conservation opportunities.

The genome of one of Australia’s biggest Eucalyptus trees, the Flooded Gum or Eucalyptus grandis, has been mapped, allowing scientists and conservationists an insight into the secrets of this important piece of Australiana.

Eucalyptus has become the most popular plantation tree in the world – with millions of hectares planted in Africa, America, Europe and Asia. That’s one of the reasons that the global community chose a eucalyptus species to map.

In a joint project by the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Eucalyptus Genome Network (www.eucagen.org) coordinated by Prof Zander Myburg from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, the genetic code of a specimen of Flooded Gum from Brazil has been mapped and released to researchers.

How will Australia’s crops and native plants adapt to a changing climate?

CSIRO scientists are investigating the potentially damaging effects climate change will have on Australia’s agricultural crops and native plants as carbon dioxide concentrations, temperatures and rainfall patterns change. In a series of talks they’re covering:

  • The urgent need to develop new wheat and other crop varieties for the next 20 to 50 years.
  • The future for pasture…how will grasses respond to climate change
  • How the iconic Australian wattle (Acacia) will adapt – “Once we understand what climate variables are intrinsically tied to wattle habitats we can predict where these habitats will move to in the future.”

The Plant List – a new global botanical resource

The head of Kew Gardens – Stephen D. Hopper – will talk about their efforts to identify and save the world’s most endangered plants and of the Breathing Planet Programme.

The vines they are a-changin’

Climate change is already changing the environment of the established “terroirs” of Australian wines, such as the Coonawarra and the Barossa Valley, says Prof Snow Barlow of the University of Melbourne.

But it won’t be the end of winemaking as we know it. Our wines will just evolve. Prof Barlow has assembled information on harvest dates from vineyards all over Australia going back 100 years or more – update on yesterday’s story.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, look out for:

  • The Atlas of Living Australia
  • Sunflowers as drug factories?
  • Brave New World: can we solve tomorrow’s environmental and energy problems by using life itself?

For more information:  call me on 0417 131 977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or AJ Epstein on 0433 339 141 or email aj@scienceinpublic.com.au. We’ll be in the Media Room (214 from 8:30am Monday 25 July).