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Inside the tree

FORESTS project is going to open up a database for groups interested in researchinginto the genome of the eucalyptus

EDUARDO CESAREucalyptus plantation: proposals for studying genes of the species should aim at technological applicationsEDUARDO CESAR

A consortium of pulp and paper makers that includes such companies as Duratex, Ripasa, Suzano and Votorantim Celulose e Papel, a partner of State of São Paulo research institutions in the FORESTS project, for sequencing the eucalyptus genome, is looking for research groups, from here or abroad, interested in exploiting the potentialities of one of the largest databases in the world with genes of this species of tree. Carried out in the ambit of FAPESP’s Partnership for Technological Development (PITE), FORESTS has sequenced 120,000 ESTs (expressed sequence tags), that is, strips of genes from this tree.

For these companies, eucalyptus is indispensable raw material for the manufacture of their products. That is why it will permit, for up to six months, access to this mountain of raw information for the teams of scientists to draw up and send proposals for work to be carried out with this material. Priority will be given to the lines of work that have the general purpose of increasing the productivity of the pulp and paper sector, possibly by means of some form of genetic improvement of this species of tree.

“In writing, the candidates have to set out briefly what they wish to study and what prospects for a technological application their line of research may generate”, says Luís Eduardo Aranha Camargo, from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture, of the University of São Paulo (Esalq/USP), in Piracicaba, one of FORESTS’ coordinators. The groups whose proposals are approved will be given a password for access to the database and will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. There is no provision for any form of funding in this stage of the research. The deadline for signing up is May 30, and the proposals should be sent by e-mail to “The most promising proposals may be the subject of technological partnerships with the consortium”, Aranha explains.

Technological partnership
The economic potential of genomic investigations has attracted the interest of the private sector. Another two partnerships will shortly be announced between companies and research institutions, with the support of FAPESP, for the development of functional genome projects.