Though significant improvements have been made in that relatively short period of time, she added, genetic transformation can hasten the improvement of loblolly pines to grow healthier trees with more resistance to environmental stresses such as drought, insects and diseases. The quality of the wood end-products also may be transformed with the new technology, she said.
In the study, transformation of loblolly pines using the meristem-based method resulted in regeneration and survival of 10 percent to 30 percent of the shoots inoculated. And not only did the trees survive, but lab analysis showed that the genes transferred to the genome of the new plants.
"These results suggest that a shoot-based transformation method can be used in the genetic engineering of this important but stubborn species," Gould said.
Acceptable rates of transformation have been documented in other pines such as Afghan, Virginia and Monterey but not in loblolly, she noted.
"There is a broad spectrum of applicability for this technology in the genetic improvement of all commercial pines," Gould said.
Contact: Dr. Jean Gould
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications