New microscope is used to isolate chromosomes of key forest species

chromosomes seen through a super microscope

Image: Texas A&M AgriLife

A super microscope may have researchers at Texas A&M University moving one step closer to writing the final chapter and verse on the genomics of the loblolly pine species.

The laser capture microdissection microscope, or LCMM, is among the most versatile and accurate instruments to perform chromosomal work, according to the scientists.

Two scientists at Texas A&M who will utilize the LCMM are Nurul Faridi, leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Molecular Cytogenetics Laboratory and a collaborating faculty member, and Claudio Casola, a forest genomics assistant professor with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the University’s ecosystem science and management department.

Their primarily use of the LCMM will be to isolate and sequence one chromosome at a time from loblolly pine cells.

Loblolly pine represents the principal southern U.S. commercial forest species, due to its abundance, rapid growth, and pulpwood and lumber value, Casola said. The forest products industry, which mainly relies on loblolly pine, has a large economic impact in Texas – $30.3 billion in industry outputs, supporting more than 130,600 jobs.

Approximately 75 percent of all tree species seedlings planted each year in the U.S. are loblolly pine. The management, conservation and commercial improvement of this pine species are key priorities for forest tree scientists, he said. Understanding the genetic basis of variation and local adaptation in loblolly pine would greatly benefit these activities.

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