University of Melbourne 


Title: The influence of micropropagation on growth and coppicing ability of Eucalyptus polybractea

Author(s): Goodger JQD, Woodrow IE

Source: TREE PHYSIOLOGY Volume: 30 Pages: 285-296 Published: 2010

Abstract: A micropropagation protocol was recently developed for Eucalyptus polybractea R.T. Baker, a commercially important eucalypt grown in short-rotation coppice cultivation and harvested for its foliar 1,8-cineole oil. Micropropagation of elite E. polybractea trees has resulted in selection gains for foliar oil traits, butdecreased above-ground biomass accumulation has been observed in clones compared to related half-sibling families. This study aims to use a greenhouse study to investigate if micropropagation induces somaclonal variation that can account for the reduction in above-ground biomass in E. polybractea clones. Secondly, the study aims to compare the coppicing ability of micropropagated clones with related half-sibling seedlings using de-topped plantation-grown saplings. The results of the greenhouse study suggest that micropropagation of E. polybractea induces somaclonal variation that manifests in more mature leaf morphologies such as increased foliar oil concentrations and lower specific leaf area (SLA), attributable to an isobilateral arrangement of increased palisade mesophyll layers. Lower SLA, rather than differences in root allocation, is likely to be a key contributor to the lower relative growth rates observed in early sapling growth of micropropagated clones. In the field study, all micropropagated and seedling-derived E. polybractea saplings coppiced vigorously in the 12 months after de-topping. The coppice growth was so vigorous in the 12 months after de-topping that total above-ground biomass equalled that of the 27-month-old saplings, irrespective of propagation source. The morphological distinction between leaves of micropropagated and seed-derived plants was no longer evident in the coppice re-growth. The results presented here suggest that the micropropagated leaf morphology and the resultant growth reduction is transient and micropropagated plants coppice just as vigourously as seed-derived plants. Therefore micropropagation is unlikely to detrimentally influence above-ground biomass accumulation beyond the first harvest rotation.