Indexed on: 26 Oct '10Published on: 26 Oct '10Published in: Trends in Biotechnology
Forest trees provide raw materials, help to maintain biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate change. Certain tree species can also be used as feedstocks for bioenergy production. Achieving these goals may require the introduction or modified expression of genes to enhance biomass production in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. Tree genetic engineering has advanced to the point at which genes for desirable traits can now be introduced and expressed efficiently; examples include biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, improved wood properties, root formation and phytoremediation. Transgene confinement, including flowering control, may be needed to avoid ecological risks and satisfy regulatory requirements. This and stable expression are key issues that need to be resolved before transgenic trees can be used commercially.