Hybrid eucalypt promises more than quality timber By Tran Ngoùc Quang
Vietnamese PhD student studying in Australia has made a major breakthrough in the propagation of eucalyptus trees. The 37-year-old scientist, Cao ẹỡnh Huứng, has developed a new method of using synthetic seeds to produce high-yielding timber forests and his study was published in Australia's Botany magazine
last December. "My research led me to hybridise the high-yielding, fast growth rate and excellent wood quality of the Eucalyptus citriodora with the disease resistance and frost tolerant Eucalyptus torelliana species," said Huứng. "The traditional methods of propagation from sowing or taking cuttings failed because hybrid seeds do not germinate particularly well and cuttings are slow to produce roots. My in vitro clonal propagation works." The process involves a small tree bud being inserted into a gel bead. After treatment in the laboratory, the bead grows new shoots and roots and can be propagated in a nursery. Australia's Sunshine Coast Daily dated December 13, 2010 hailed Huứng's work as a major breakthrough in botanical science that gave hope to the carbon battle. Huứ n g enrolled at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) a few years ago due to its reputation as Australia's leading university for tropical forestry research. "I want to complete my PhD on enhancing hardwood trees for use in plantations in
Scientist Cao ẹỡnh Huứngs work on creating a fast-growing and disease resistant type of eucalyptus tree may help improve
afforestation work in Vieọt Nam and other countries in the region.
Cao ẹỡnh Huứng at a University of Sunshine Coast laboratory in Queensland, Australia.
I want to assist in reducing deforestation by establishing and improving plantations.
Australia and Vieọt Nam. I want to assist in reducing deforestation by establishing and improving plantations in our countries," Huứng was quoted by the daily as saying. Eucalyptus trees were first found in Vieọt Nam as early as 1904, and since 1985, plantations have been expanding rapidly, either as concentrated industrial plantations or as scattered forests.
Plantations The total area of eucalyptus and acacia plantations in Vieọt Nam was reported to be 850,000 hectares in 2008. Eucalyptus is one of the most important groups of plantation tree species, mainly used for the supply of industrial raw materials and fuel in Vieọt Nam. However, their growth rate is 32
lower than that of many neighbouring countries and that has caused problems for the expansion of plantations in the country. This triggered concerns from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development about being able to achieve its target of reforesting 5 million ha by 2010 as well as developing a supply base for a paper industry producing 1.5 million tonnes a year and 1.0 million tonnes of artificial board. According to the Forest Science Institute of Vieọt Nam, hybrid eucalyptus species can produce wood yields up to 40 50 cubic metres per ha a year. USC Associate Professor in Plant Science Stephen Trueman told the paper it was an easier and much quicker method of growing a stronger,
selected tree. "Normally from one seed we can produce 100 plants in a year. This way we can produce about 10 million a year, with half the process in the lab and half in the nursery," said Trueman. It took almost three years for his efforts to bear fruit. Huứng's method of establishing in vitro and ex vitro clone banks of juvenile Eucalyptus torelliana ì E. citriodora trees for field selection of desired genotypes, was said to have opened a bright vista for plantation development in Vieọt Nam and the tropics of Australia that would reduce pressures on natural forests and create highquality timber sources. Australian tree species account for more than half of the total area of forestry plantations in Vieọt Nam, with eucalyptus being the most dominant of those species and playing a very important role in Vietnamese industry. "Almost all eucalyptus species in Vieọt Nam are of low yield whilst the quality of wood is lower than those I'm studying in Australia. I hope that my research will contribute to improving the nation's forestry industry," said Huứng, a graduate from the Hueỏ University of Science in the central province of Thửứa Thieõn Hueỏ, his birthplace. Huứng has also applied this technique to highly valued African mahogany. ABC News and the Sunshine Coast Daily reported that Huứng's new method of producing "New Type" synthetic seeds to grow native eucalyptus and African mahogany, could generate enormous benefits for the construction industry. "The tree is growing increasingly popular in Australia because its wood is even more valuable than eucalyptus and its bark, seeds and leaves can be used in the treatment of cancer, malaria and diarrhoea. However, it is threatened by overexploitation," Huứng said.
Both eucalyptus and African mahogany are traditionally difficult to propagate from cuttings. "I have also been working with African mahogany because this species could be suitable for high-value timber
can only be found growing on the streets. The timber is even more precious than eucalyptus, and there could be new opportunities for future research collaborations between Vieọt Nam and other tropical countries." Besides hardwood trees, Huứng also studies medicinal plants. He said that he had chosen these areas because they could contribute the most to Vieọt Nam. Indeed, the medicinal value of wasabi, introduced to Vieọt Nam over the last decade, has been developed by Huứng's research.
Huứng says he chose to study at the USC due to the institutions reputation as a leading centre for the study of tropical forestry.
Huứng with some of the seedlings he raised using an in vitro clonal propagation process.
plantations in Vieọt Nam in the near future," he said. "The importance of this tree species has not yet been realised in Vieọt Nam and at present, African mahogany
He successfully extracted allyl isothiocyanate, one of the most important medicinal compounds in wasabi, that can be used for not only the treatment of cancer, asthma and toothache, but also for the prevention of blood clotting. At the same time, he developed a way of increasing the content of this medicinal compound using induced mutation methods, and this valuable research was published in the international journal In-vitro Plant in 2008. He achieved a first class master's degree in 2007 at the University of Technology in Sydney and subsequently received numerous invitations from prestigious international universities, but Huứng decided to enrol at USC. Huứng said his research had helped him to realise a childhood dream of becoming a scientist. According to USC, Huứng has devoted almost all of his free time to research in campus laboratories, and has been recognised as an outstanding researcher. Huứng explained that he had undertaken globally important research projects and achieved excellent results for the sake of the socio-economic development of Vieọt Nam.