Author(s): ProCoGen Management
Editorial office: BFW, Austria
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ProCoGen: Adaption of Forests to Climate Change

Forest Genetics to secure a better future

Geological and anthropogenic activities that are causing a drastic change in the earth´s biosphere touch everyone´s life on this planet. Adaptation and natural selection are two terms in the evolution of all the species that go hand in hand. From the days of Darwin´s origin of species till today genetics and molecular biology have come a long way.

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The technological advancements made in these two fields have helped unfold several aspects of evolution and have given us an insight into the secrets that lie deeply embedded within the core of a cell. Therein lies the key to survival and the secrets around which the life on earth revolves. The information encoded by DNA (genetic code) is converted / transcribed into RNA which is then translated into amino acids that are building blocks of proteins. Variation in the genetic code also leads to change in the end product, which is very important for adaptation of the species.

Not only this, but also a regulation of expression plays a vital role in species and environmental interaction. Today it is possible, to a certain extent, to correlate the regulation of physical (phenotypic) changes to gene expression in species. This has opened infinite number of possibilities for developing efficient selection tools for breeding purposes. This can be a great asset in view of the ongoing global climate change.   

European forests are unthinkable without Conifers. They have immense ecological and economic importance as they dominate many terrestrial landscapes, form an integral part of the temperate forest and are an inseparable part of the global carbon cycle.

The threats posed by global warming, depletion by certain diseases and pests, fires, as well as harvesting rates exceeding regeneration, either naturally or artificially, are all important reasons for investigating and increasing our knowledge on the mechanisms underlining the expression of important adaptive and productive traits in our forest species.

The latest technological advancements and innovations in genetic engineering and molecular biology can provide tree breeders with tools for precise selection and help gear up for the future global climatic change scenario. They can also facilitate the maintenance of high quality standards of European forests as sustainable production tools. ProCoGen- "Promoting a functional and comparative understanding of the conifer genome- implementing applied aspects for more productive and adaptive forests" is one such collaborative initiative that not only aims at integrating the activities of 19 European research groups, across 11 European nations involved in the ongoing international conifer genome research, but also aspires to strengthen international collaboration beyond the continent with 2 research groups  in  Canada. 

ProCoGen is a 4 year project officially launched on the 1st. of Jan. 2012. The first meeting of the project partners was held in Madrid, Spain on 8th of March 2012. It has a total budget of about €7.7million and is supported by EC funding of € 5.9million under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. 


ProCoGen website


Coordinator, Prof. Carmen DÍAZ SALA, University of Alcala

Dr. Maria-Teresa Cervera, INIA-CIFRO,
Carretera de la Coruna Km7.5, MADRID, SPAIN