PS Seminar: Domesticating Eucalyptus genomes for the bioeconomy

In this seminar, Prof Myburg will give an overview of his work towards developing genomic resources for the genetic dissection of growth and wood development in fast-growing Eucalyptus plantations. In particular, he will present how his team has been able to combine the power of genetic segregation in structured populations with genomic technologies to construct systems genetics models of growth, development and wood chemistry in eucalypt hybrid populations. Finally, he will discuss recent efforts to generate a Genome Diversity Atlas for commercially grown eucalypts in South Africa and how this resource is used to support genetic resource management and breeding, as well as new applied landscape genomics approaches that may allow improved genotype-by-site matching in future.

Zander Myburg is a Professor in Genetics and the Director of the Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria (UP). He holds the Chair in Forest Genomics and Biotechnology at UP. His research team has pioneered the use of population genomics and systems genetics approaches to unravel the genetic control of growth and wood formation in Eucalyptus trees. His research has focused on the genetic dissection of wood cell wall chemistry in Eucalyptus. He also was the lead investigator of the US Department of Energy (DOE) funded international Eucalyptus Genome Project which generated the reference genome sequence for the genus (Myburg et al. 2014, Nature). His team is using genomics information to develop biotechnology applications for tree improvement with South African forestry companies including DNA fingerprinting, genome-assisted breeding approaches and genetic engineering. These tools are applied towards breeding and enhancing eucalypt plantations for pulp, paper, timber and other bioeconomy applications. He has supervised 60 postgraduate (postdoc, MSc and PhD) students and is author of 98 ISI peer-reviewed papers and book chapters in the field of plant molecular genetics and genomics.