Would you like acid with that Eucalypt?

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PolyGenomX has in the past, worked successfully with Eucalyptus robusta, to develop environmentally adapted polyploid varieties tailored for plantation establishment in acid peat swamp forests of Borneo. Borneo is one country that has been the hardest hit in the last 60 years of deforestation with an estimated half of the annual global tropical timber acquisition currently coming from there.

Most tropical lowland peat deposits develop behind coastal mangroves where rivers drain into the inland edge of mangrove forest and sediment laden with organic matter is trapped behind the tangle of mangrove roots. These areas gradually build up and flood less often as the coastline extends seaward. The peat deposits are usually at least 50 cm thick but can be as deep as 20 metres. The peat swamps of Borneo are nutrient deficient and have a pH ranging from 2.9-4.0. In its standard diploid state Euc robusta prefers to grow in ph levels ranging between 5.5 and 6.5.

 Characteristics

E. robusta is commonly known as Swamp Mahogany (or in Queensland as Swamp Messmate). The tree usually grows to a height of 20 – 35 m and a butt diameter up to 1m.

 It is a fast growing tree which in its normal diploid state can tolerate moderate salinity. Swamp Mahogany occurs in freshwater swamps, floodplains and poorly drained creeklines. It is usually the dominant eucalypt species growing in swamp forests and open forests along coastal lagoon edges or coastal creeks in Australia.

 Uses

Its many uses include poles, posts and exterior cladding, as a shade tree,  for soil stabilisation in wet areas, and for honey production. It is also prized as firewood in the tea industry.

Testing to date

PolyGenomX has successfully adapted  E. robusta to grow in in the low pH levels of the Borneo peat forests as well as Polygenomic lines suitable for high-salinity sites. Robusta is naturally suitable for sites that are marginal due to water-logging, but PolygenomX is confident that this trait could be enhanced, if necessary. The PGX  Eucalyptus robusta was tested independently, by the University of Queensland for:

  • Chromosome counts which verify the polyploidy state
  • Photosynthetic enhancement
  • Stomatal density/pore area and aperture
  • Chlorophyll levels
  • Accelerated growth

EuRobustaComparison

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