Awards and recognition

SMarTForests project awarded $10 million

SMarTForests:  Spruce marker technology for sustainable forestry

The SMarTForests project, co-led by Joerg Bohlmann, Distinguished University Scholar and professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and the Faculty of Forestry at UBC, and Laval University professor John MacKay, was awarded $10 million by Genome Canada, Genome BC, Genome Quebec and Genome Alberta to study the genomics of spruce trees, which account for more than half of the seedlings planted each year in Canada.  The project will use genomics to develop markers for improved growth, wood properties, insect resistance, and adaptation to climate changes for Canada’s $68 billion dollar industry.

Insect pests and pathogens cause annual losses of billions of dollars to conifer-based forest economies in North America and Europe.  The SMarTForests project brings together genome scientists, forest geneticists, tree breeders and end-users.  The SMarTForests project from Arborea and Treenomic groups were previously funded by Genome Canada.  These groups are joining forces so that applied spruce genomics research in Canada will be highly integrated and efficient.  Combined with the active participation from tree breeding programs this research will help to focus development on practical needs and maximize the power of existing resources.  The team is in a superb position to break new ground in conifer genome sequencing and will be among the first in the world to sequence a conifer genome.