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Horticulture researchers sharing online gene resources for healthier forests

Posted by struscott | December 18, 2018

Aerial top view of summer green trees in forest in rural Finland. Drone photographySharing data that helps scientists, foresters and foundations improve and protect our forests, Department of Horticulture researchers Dorrie Main, Stephen Ficklin and Sook Jung are co-authors on a recent paper detailing data resources and development of TreeGenes, an electronic database of forest genomes.

Valued as sources of timber, pulp and biofuel, forests help sequester carbon, stabilize our watersheds, and maintain biodiversity in our ecology. To ensure the health and future of forests, assist with reforestation, advance tree-breeding techniques, and protect against diseases, scientists have developed a database of forest tree genomes over the last 24 years.

Today, the TreeGenes database includes genomic resources on 1790 tree species and has more than 1,500 users at academic research labs, commercial breeders, government agencies and a variety of foundations.

Authored by scientists at the University of Connecticut, University of Tennessee, Washington State University, and Clemson University, the paper, “Growing and cultivating the forest genomics database, TreeGenes,” was published this fall in Database, a journal of biological databases and curation.

The new paper describes TreeGenes’ tools and interface, data sources, community standards, as well as the database’s future direction.

WSU researchers support TreeGenes, collaborating on development of a database construction tool called Tripal, and sharing their research data through TreeGenes and other fruit tree databases on the rose and citrus plant families.

This research is supported by a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Program.

Main is Professor of Bioinformatics in the Department of Horticulture; Ficklin is Assistant Professor, and Jung is an Assistant Research Professor.