DNA sequencing to revive native Australian plant


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Australia (Commonwealth Union) – The Emu Bush also known as Eremophila maculate is native to Australia. A University of Queensland (UQ) project to produce in large scale a genetically diverse and resilient species of the Australian emu bush is set to boost important land restoration and revegetation efforts across the Australia.

The ARC Linkage project led by Dr Robyn Cave from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, is looking to advance germination the hardy shrub that are essential for the ecosystem. Dr Cave stated that Emu bush is the fifth largest genus of Australia’s indigenous plants giving habitat nectar and fruit for species as it stabilizes the soil further stating that till now it got little attention. Hence, its effects in relation to changes in climate and land restoration is unknown.

Scientists are combining molecular biology, DNA sequencing and proteomics to obtain knowledge into the process controlling seed germination in Eremophila.

According to Dr Cave, bigger restoration projects until now had to cultivate plants from cuttings. However, the research will change that. “Our aim is to enable land restoration groups and commercial nurseries to grow a range of Eremophila species from seed, meaning greatly improved biodiversity at planting sites with seedlings adaptable to a range of growing conditions,” she explained. “Specifically, we are developing enhanced coatings for seeds and pre-treatments, either chemical or mechanical, which will improve germination and promote the growth of healthy seedlings.”

Researchers stated that a change from utilizing cuttings to seed-propagated plants will pave the way for natural adaptations in the plant to a warmer, drier conditions. “Revegetation of degraded lands and mine sites using a wide range of native herbs, shrubs and trees is important to encourage self-sustainable ecological systems,” Dr Cave said.

The introduction of native species is actively underway in many parts of the world as native species generally can better adapt in their indigenous habitats.


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