Biotechnology of Woody Plants

S. Kitani

Rapidly increasing population is enhancing the expansion of slash-and-burn agriculture in tropical areas. Cultivation in the arable land obtained by slash-and-burn agriculture becomes impossible several years later. This is the cause of desertification in the tropical area. Seventeen million hectares of the forests have been deforested or destroyed per year. Of the tropical forest it is known that extremely variant plants, animals and microbes are alive there. By destruction of the tropical forest, the treasury of such various genetic resources has been disappearing rapidly, without contributing to future human beings. Under these conditions, we must stop the decrease of tropical forests and try to reforest, but the area of reforestation per year is only equal to 10% of the decreased area. The forest area in temperate and cold climate regions has also been decreasing. On the other hand, the world demand for wood products is predicted to rise sharply in the next decade, and shortages have been forecasted. We must increase the productivity of woody plants to improve the outlook for these problems. It is expected that "biotechnology of woody plants" is useful to the analysis and preservation of a gene resource, and can also contribute to the reproduction of the destroyed forest. "Biotechnology of woody plants" includes micropropagation, genetic engineering and marker-aided selection. The possibilities of the "biotechnology of woody plants" are described below.

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