Professor John Mackay

Research Interests

Genetics and molecular biology of forest trees

Research in my group focuses on the adaptability of trees and forests, as relevant for sustainable use of forest lands. We use the tools of genetics and genomics to address these questions. The major themes are:

  • Genetic basis of adaptation: Role of gene expression variation in the adaptability of forest trees. Genes and genes networks that underpin responses to stress as well as growth and development
  • Forest health: Insect resistance in conifer trees.
  • Genetic basis of wood formation and properties: Regulation of gene expression in wood formation. Quantitative and association genetics of wood structure
  • Evolution of conifer genomes:  Genes and gene families. Copy number variation
  • Development of DNA-based tools for tree breeding: Insect resistance bio-markers in conifers. Genomic selection for wood and growth traits in spruce trees

Harnessing Genomics in Tree Breeding: Virtual Symposium by The Sitka Spruced Project

26 April 2022 – 14.00 to 18.00 GMT - Zoom

The Symposium “Harnessing Genomics in Tree Breeding” will showcase recent developments in major forest trees. Speakers will highlight new work in Sitka spruce in Great Britain, and commercial conifers in Canada and the USA. Genomic prediction is a powerful new breeding approach that is emerging in these systems. It combines genome scanning with data from growth modelling, determinations of wood properties and analyses of climatic adaptation, among others. You will learn about the progress, challenges, and future directions in the development and application of genomic prediction. Talks will also cover genetic diversity, evolution, drought tolerance and insect resistance as relevant to sustainable tree breeding.

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