2008-01-15

Genetic makeup of sap holds clue to tree defences

University of B.C. researchers say they have discovered that the genetic makeup of sap holds some of the keys to how trees evolve new defences in their ongoing arms race against insect pests.

But the discovery is no "silver bullet" enabling researchers to genetically engineer more resistant trees, UBC associate professor Joerg Bohlmann said. Rather, it reinforces the importance of maintaining a diverse gene pool to ensure trees of the future will be as able as today's trees to adapt to changes in climate and the insects that attack them, the UBC scientist said in an interview Monday.