Euphytica

, 121:173 | Cite as

Recent advances in molecular genetics of forest trees

  • M.R. Ahuja

Abstract

The use of molecular markers has greatly enhanced our understanding of the genome structure of forest trees. Conifers, in particular, have a relatively large genome, containing a very high proportion of repeated DNA, consisting of tandemly repetitive and dispersed repetitive DNA sequences. The nature of highly conserved tandemly repetitive rRNA genes has been investigated in a number of tree species, and their sites mapped on specific chromosomes by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Different families of retrotransposons (IFG, and TPE1) have been isolated and characterized from the dispersed repetitive DNA of pines. Genome maps have been constructed in a number of forest tree genera: Pinus, Picea, Pseudotsuga, Cryptomeria, Taxus, Populus, and Eucalyptus. EST databases have been established from cDNA clones of pines and poplars. The structure and maternal or paternal modes of inheritance of organelle genomes have been investigated in forest trees. Comparative mapping in conifers has shown that gene families are conserved across genera. Due to lack of polyploidy in conifers, the evolution of this group of trees may have occurred primarily by duplication and dispersal of genes, probably by retrotranspositions, to form complex gene families. The evolution of angiosperm tree species has presumably involved both gene duplication as well as genome duplication (polyploidy). Application of genetic engineering has shown that genes from phylogenetically unrelated organisms can be introduced and expressed in trees, thus offering prospects of genetic improvement of forest trees.

forest trees genetic engineering genome evolution genome mapping genome structure molecular markers organelle inheritance repetitive DNA 

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • M.R. Ahuja
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Forest GeneticsPlacervilleU.S.A.

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