Scientists Crack Genetic Code Of Dwarf Birch From Highlands Forest Restoration Site – Trees for Life

21st November 2012
Scientists Crack Genetic Code Of Dwarf Birch From Highlands Forest Restoration Site – Trees for Life

Richard Buggs collecting seed from a dwarf birch plant in winter at Dundreggan.
Scientists today announced the sequencing of the entire genetic code – the genome – of a dwarf birch from Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Estate near Loch Ness in Glen Moriston, where the conservation charity is working to conserve a natural population of the species.
Dwarf birch (Betula nana) is a nationally scarce species in Britain, occurring mainly in small populations on Scottish mountains. The genome’s sequencing – a laboratory process that identifies the complete DNA sequence of an organism – lays the foundations for genetic research into the birch genus, which includes up to 60 tree species. This will benefit studies on the conservation of dwarf birch.
“Increasing our understanding of tree genomes is essential for our long-term ability to conserve and grow tree species in the UK,” said Richard Buggs, lead scientist of the project, who is based at Queen Mary University of London.
Alan Watson Featherstone, executive director of Trees for Life, said: “This is a tremendous breakthrough. Together with our woodland restoration work at Dundreggan, where we have one of the greatest concentrations of dwarf birch in Scotland, it will do much to benefit the conservation of this important species.”