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Mr Saravanan Thavamanikumar

profile_thavamanikumar_thumMr Saravanan Thavamanikumar
PhD student - COMPLETED

Topic: using genetic association studies for the improvement of wood and fibre properties in Eucalyptus globulus

In an effort to reverse the current trade deficit in wood and paper products in recent years the Australian plantation eucalypt estate has experienced massive growth. A large proportion of the trees being planted come from seed collected from selected trees in the native forest.

Current efforts to improve breeding stock by using classical breeding techniques are hampered by long generation times and difficulties determining which seeds will produce trees with the highest quality wood upon maturity. This research project aimed to increase wood production and value by improving solid wood and fibre properties in eucalypts through the application of new molecular techniques.

I did my Masters in Plant Breeding and Genetics in India and worked as a lecturer in a private college affiliated with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University for three years. I love working in molecular genetics because it offers a blessing for tree breeders, enabling them to do things that are not possible through conventional or classical breeding. My enthusiasm towards the research of molecular techniques and its usefulness in forest tree breeding attracted me to do a PhD in forest genetics and breeding with the CRC for Forestry.

Saravanan Thavamanikumar - graduationFor my PhD I used a candidate-gene-based association-mapping approach to identify associations between nucleotide variation and phenotypic variation in Eucalyptus globulus. For this, I screened polymorphisms from seven wood quality candidate genes and tested some selected polymorphisms with several wood quality and growth traits obtained from a provenance-progeny trial. I identified a number of molecular markers that can be used to predict the wood quality of young seedlings. I also validated selected marker-trait associations in an independent breeding trial. 

My supervisors were Dr Gerd Bossinger and Dr Luke McManus (School of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne).

I am now  a Research Fellow in the Forest Molecular Biology and Genetics Group in the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne.

To browse other PhD projects available with the High Value Wood Resources Research Program, click here.