Genetics and evolution of variation in chemical defence against herbivores

Trees in a Eucalyptus forest


Why are some trees defended against herbivores and others not? Even when they grow right next to each other? Is it because of variations in soils or are genetic factors more important?

We are studying the genetic basis of chemical defense against herbivores Myrtaceae family (eucalypts and tea trees). We take a multidisciplinary approach, including traditional quantitative genetics, marker-based studies in natural populations, QTL mapping and molecular genetics. Current questions include, the molecular biology of terpene chemotypes in oil mallees and tea trees and association genetics of variation in quantitative traits of plant defense in trees. We are closely involved with the annotation and structure of the Eucalyptus genome, which provides an excellent resource for understanding how defense and other traits of trees are organized.

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