Scientific advances are unlocking ever more significant uses for the components of trees. In addition to the wood, pulp for paper and wood for fire, increasing demands are being made of trees for fine grade cellulosic sugars that can be converted to biofuels, polyethylene and other compounds for industrial use. Yet the tree itself remains an undomesticated plant. Far from its agricultural counterparts which have been bred for cold tolerance, drought resistance, improved yields and improved food quality, the tree has only been bred for a few generations and predominately to improve form for processing lumber.
ArborGen uses advance breeding techniques to shorten the time required to reach domesticated species for industrial purposes. Varietal propagation allows us to replicate one species to improve consistency. Mass Controlled Pollination allows us to improve a line by controlling one parent in a breeding pair. However, demands for wood cellulose are growing at a rate of acceleration that can never be matched at the conventional breeding level for a species that takes more than 20 years to mature. ArborGen scientists use precision breeding techniques to look at specific ways of improving and domesticating trees for industrial uses.
One excellent example is a lignin-modified Eucalpytus species that has proven to release more than twice the usual amount of sugar, making it a promising option as a biomass feedstock for liquid fuel. The tree is being studied by National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Another example is a Freeze Tolerant Eucalyptus that can be grown in the Southeast United States to provide a sustainable supply of hardwood fiber to meet the needs of the pulp, paper and bioproducts industries.
Join us for our next free webinar to learn more about ArborGen and the exciting work that they're doing in North Carolina in the advanced breeding of trees.