NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - A destructive three-party relationship between a bug, a microbe, and a type of tree will take center stage in a new genomics effort aimed at sparing forests from an invasive threat, according to Genome British Columbia.
Using CAN$4 million ($3.9 million) from the British Columbian government-funded GenomeBC and Genome Alberta, a group of researchers will conduct a two-year study of the genomes and the relationships between the mountain pine beetle, a fungal pathogen it carries, and pine trees in British Columbia.
The researchers aim to discover how this beetle, carrying this specific pathogen, has been damaging trees. GenomeBC said as many as 13 million hectares of pine tree forest have been devastated, and more than 1.5 million trees have been damaged in Alberta.
The knowledge about how these distinct biological systems interact with each other will support “more accurate and far-reaching forest harvesting and management decisions for Canada and other lumber-producing nations,” said Joerg Bohlmann, a forestry and genomics researcher at the University of British Columbia and a leader of the project.
Participants in the project include scientists at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George and the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center in Vancouver.
“The multidisciplinary team that we have been able to bring together for this project has critical expertise that allows us to investigate interactions between the mountain pine beetle, its fungal associates, and pine trees in an integrative fashion,” said University of Alberta biologist and project co-leader Janice Cooke.