Canadian Forest Service Publications
Biotechnology in forestry: examples from the Canadian Forest Service. 1996. Charest, P.J. Forestry Chronicle 72(1): 37-42.
Issued by: National Capital Region
Catalog ID: 10269
As a general trend, research activities related to biotechnology in the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) have increased significantly during the last decade as illustrated by a marked increase in resources committed to this field and in the number of publications produced by the scientists involved. The three areas covered by CFS biotechnological activities are forest regeneration, forest protection and environmental impact assessment. In forest regeneration, the tissue culture of conifers using somatic embryogenesis is a good example of potential application of biotechnology to conventional tree improvement. This technology is being used on a large scale in British Columbia and involves private firms such as BC Research Inc. Other technologies are also being developed such as genetic engineering which eventually will allow the incorporation of advantageous traits into trees which would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve. In forest protection, Bacillus thuringiensis is a well known success of biotechnology. This bacterium is used as a biopesticide in Canada to control spruce budworm and gypsy moth. Its use has been increasing during the last few decades and, with the phasing out of chemical insecticides for forestry use, Bacillus thuringiensis will become one of the few alternatives available for insect control. Insect viruses are also becoming more attractive for the biological control of forest pests. The CFS has registered three viruses for forestry use and the next generation of viruses will be genetically engineered to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. The last area of activity encompasses environmental impact studies of biotechnology products for forestry use. The CFS has been a pioneer in the development of microcosms (soil and aquatic) for studying microbial pesticides uses to evaluate the impact of engineered biopesticides.