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Stringy bark research makes headway

Justin_sm

Justin Bloomfield harvests leaves from a stringy bark at Mt Field National Park.

Stringy barks (Eucalyptus obliqua) are an important component of Tasmania's native forest harvesting program.  A research program commenced this year aimed at assessing the robustness of Forestry Tasmania's seed zones and seed transfer guidelines that relate to this species.  Justin Bloomfield, an honours student at the University of Tasmania, has been extracting DNA from leaf material that he has collected from across the natural range of E. obliqua in Tasmania.  Justin will characterise each population using highly variable genetic markers called "microsatellites".  Recent improvements in technical aspects of this methodology will allow Justin to genotype hundreds of samples within a couple of weeks; previously the same task would have taken several months.  The results of Justin's study will dovetail nicely with a similar study of a closely related species, E. regnans (swamp gum or mountain ash) that is soon to be completed by Paul Nevill at the University of Melbourne.