Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #99
Program Date: 01/15/2008
Program Category: Climate Change, Forests, Genomics, Natural Sciences

Gene Research To Unlock Pine Beetle Mystery

Forest managers are desperately searching for ways to stop the advance of mountain pine beetles from British Columbia into Alberta and Saskatchewan.

A new study into the genetic relationship between the beetles, the fungi they carry and the trees they attack could help predict areas at risk.

Lead scientist on the Mountain Pine Beetle Genomics Project is Dr. Janice Cooke, a forest genomics expert at the University of Alberta. As she explains, Alberta forests are different from those in BC.

DR. JANICE COOKE: We live in a very dry environment, a very harsh environment. These trees are under chronic stress. They’re adapted to this stress. But they present a very different buffet to these incoming beetles than do trees in BC. And so one of the chief questions we want to address is how are trees defenses altered in Alberta’s harsh environment. And so we can ask what kind of defense response does it mount by looking at gene expression patterns.

Dr. Janice Cooke says the genetic analysis will also show if the pine beetle outbreaks are a result of genetic adaptation to colder northern conditions.

Thanks today to Genome Alberta.

FOR INNOVATION ANTHOLOGY, I’M CHERYL CROUCHER

Images

Dr. Janice Cooke and Matthew Bryman

Dr. Janice Cooke and Matthew Bryman

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