"I'm not suggesting that we have genetically engineered trees growing in all our national forests," he said. "But this kind of technology could allow us to increase our yields and create tailor-made trees to meet society's demands for forestry products without encroaching on wilderness areas."
The next step in Meilan's research will involve taking genes he identifies through gene and enhancer trapping, transferring those genes to trees that lack the desired trait and determining whether the trait is acquired.
Also contributing to this research were Andrew Groover, Joseph R. Fontana and Gayle Dupper with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics; Caiping Ma and Steven Strauss with Oregon State University; and Robert Martienssen with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.
Funding was partially provided by industrial members of the Tree Genetic Engineering Research Cooperative, sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Biomass Program through contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.