Scientific Research Related to Genetically Modified Trees

  • Armand Séguin
  • Denis Lachance
  • Annabelle Déjardin
  • Jean-Charles Leplé
  • Gilles Pilate
Part of the Forestry Sciences book series (FOSC, volume 81)


Over the last decade, we have witnessed impressive advances in tree molecular biology and the consolidation of tree genomics. We have essentially moved from a small portfolio of genes focusing on a specific genetic trait to large databases including thousands of genes and their respective expression profiles. In 2006, we saw the publication of the first genomic sequence of a tree, the model tree species Populus trichocarpa. Though, not surprisingly, much progress has been made with Populus, impressive research results have also been realized in more recalcitrant coniferous species such as pines and spruces.

Despite the rapid advances in tree genomics, tree genetic engineering (GE) proved to be a bottleneck requiring the development of whole-tree regeneration protocols using in vitro culture and an effective method of DNA transfer. The introduction of simple single gene traits such as insect resistance was the early target of tree genetic engineers. Today more tree species are compatible with GE and at a higher throughput, making functional genomics approaches possible to improve our understanding of gene functions.

In this chapter we will provide an historical overview of the advances made in GE of trees. We will also explore the various applications of tree GE to improving response to biotic and abiotic stresses, which is becoming more important in an ever-changing environment. Improvement of specific traits for tree domestication will also be covered. Lastly, we will briefly discuss issues related to the regulation of GM trees, particularly concerning genetic containment and environmental risk assessment.


Genetically Modify Secondary Cell Wall Wood Property Genetically Modify Crop Gypsy Moth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Pamela Cheers for her editorial work. We apologize to all our colleagues whose scientific contributions could not be acknowledged in this chapter owing to space limitations. This work is supported by a grant from the Canadian Regulatory Systems for Biotechnology to AS and support from the EU-COST Action FP0905 entitled “Biosafety of forest transgenic trees: improving the scientific basis for safe tree development and implementation of EU policy directives”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armand Séguin
    • 1
  • Denis Lachance
    • 1
  • Annabelle Déjardin
    • 2
  • Jean-Charles Leplé
    • 2
  • Gilles Pilate
    • 2
  1. 1.Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest ServiceLaurentian Forestry CentreStn. Sainte-FoyCanada
  2. 2.INRA, UR0588 Amélioration, Génétique et Physiologie ForestièresCedex 2, OrléansFrance

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