21st Century Tissue Culture

The radiata pine growing industry has made substantial progress over several decades in breeding of this species to improve its rate of growth, its form, the quality of the wood and its resilience. However, it is still taking over 20 years to deploy a new radiata pine genotype into commercial application.

Reducing deployment time is the objective of a new programme being supported by the industry through levy funding ($600,000 per annum) and matched by investment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ($400,000 per annum) and from the Scion Strategic Science Investment Fund ($200,000 per annum).

This programme aims to get deployment time down to about 9 years using a tissue culture approach with the potential to produce large quantities of varietals opening up the opportunity to expand multi varietal forestry – that is using tested high-performing tree varieties in plantations very cost effective.

The current approach is very labour-intensive and the aim is that a tree with proven ability to perform on a given site and for a specific purpose can be rapidly duplicated and deployed.

The programme is now one year old and is at the point where Scion with our partners at Georgia Institute of Technology in the  USA are installing a bioreactor suite and the robotics and systems to develop that propagation factory for radiata pine. We have estimated that it will take another 6 years to have the system ready for commercial application in New Zealand.

The full report can be read as a PDF on the FGR website.

For further information contact Dr Russell Burton

 L - A bioreactor production system and R - some of the immersion bioreactors being installed at Scion