It’s been too long (in a January 19, 2015 posting) since I last featured an SFU Café Scientifique here. I’m glad to have the opportunity to do it again and just before COP26, the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference being held in Edinburgh, Scotland from October 31 – November 12, 2021..
From an October 19, 2021 SFU Café Scientifique announcement (received via email), Note: I have made some formatting changes,
We are excited to announce that our fall sessions are back by popular
demand, and we look forward to having you join us for our next virtual [on Zoom]
SFU Café Scientifique!
“Our climate is changing too fast for forests to adapt. Can we help
NOW OPEN FOR REGISTRATION
Thursday October 28, 2021 5:00-6:30pm
Dr. Jim Mattsson, SFU Department of Biology
Here is a description from the registration page,
About this event
Rapid climate change has resulted in the decline of tree species, as the spread of naturally resistant genetic variants to combat new conditions is too low. Dr. Jim Mattsson from the Department of Biological Sciences will give local examples of such losses and present research that identifies genetic variants with a high tolerance to new climate conditions that could potentially be used for reforesting affected areas.
According to Mattison’s SFU profile page where he’s listed as an Associate Professor, Plant Functional Genomics with an undergraduate degreee and PhD obtained at Uppsala University, Sweden and which gives a brief description of his interests,
Our research focuses on the genetic regulation of vascular tissue development in plants. Specific questions are (1) what is the molecular mechanism behind vascular strand formation? (2) which genes regulate fiber differentiation? (3) which genes regulate the rate of wood formation and the cellular composition of wood? … We are also setting up induced mutant populations of western red cedar and hybrid poplars for identification of mutations in genes of interest through so called TILLING technology. …
Given the focus on forests and trees, I’m a little surprised Mattison isn’t at the University of British Columbia (UBC) where they have a faculty of forestry. As for western red cedar (redcedar), I found a Genome BC (British Columbia) project, “Health Future Forests,” which focuses on western red cedars,
University of British Columbia researchers and British Columbia’s government are joining forces to protect and enhance one of the province’s most iconic symbols and valuable resources.
The life of the majestic western redcedar and the history of British Columbia have been intertwined for as long as humans have walked, fished and forested the West Coast. Known as arborvitae – the tree of life – the redcedar is both British Columbia’s official tree and a $1-billion annual industry. (Scientists spell “redcedar” as one word to indicate a false classification [emphasis mine]; the redcedar is actually a member of the cypress family.)
Industry will face a challenge as they transition from old growth forests, with trees more than 250 years old, to younger second-growth forests that have sprung up following human-caused events like logging or natural disturbances such as wildfire. Because of their size and age, second growth forests are less productive than old growth forests, generating less wood with lower durability.
In addition, the health of redcedar forests can be negatively impacted by shifts in the quantity and types of pests influenced by climate change.
Traditional breeding strategies for western redcedar can take decades to produce the desired traits of wood durability inherent in old growth trees. Dr. Joerg Bohlmann of the University of British Columbia is working with Dr. John H. Russell of British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to apply genomic selection to reduce that time by up to 30 years. Genomic selection will accelerate the development of tree populations that are resistant to multiple pests and reduce the need for time-consuming and costly phenotyping (this involves observing the characteristics of an organism resulting from the interaction of its genes with the environment). Because key industry producers and users of these trees are actively participating in the project, technology transfer and commercialization will be seamless.
I haven’t forgotten the poplars, in an April 7, 2014 posting three different projects on poplars (scroll down about 40% of the way for the UBC work) are featured.
Perhaps Mattison is involved in the either or both the western redcedar and poplar work being done at UBC.
Coming up in November 2021
SAVE THE DATE: REGISTRATION OPENING SOON
Thursday November 25, 2021 5:00-6:30pm
Dr. Ryan Morin, SFU Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
“How genome research is influencing our understanding of B-cell
I gather the next one will be about cancer.