Native plant shares its secrets

Published: Thu 3 Sep 2015 09:06 AM
Native plant shares its secrets
Scientists have sequenced one of New Zealand’s most important indigenous plants and are making the data available to tāngata whenua and New Zealand’s research community.
Mānuka (Leptosperumum scoparium) is a taonga, or treasured, plant for Māori and has special significance for the New Zealand people, particularly for the healing properties found in honey produced from its nectar. The sequencing of the mānuka genome, or genetic blueprint, will allow Māori to understand the provenance (whakapapa) of and protect varieties of mānuka of particular significance to their region, as well as help scientists understand the origins and genetic diversity of mānuka found in New Zealand. The information can also be used to support the future breeding of new varieties with key characteristics desired by honey and food ingredient producers.
“The genome sequence of plants can tell us their story in a very detailed way – from where the plant first originated to the slight differences seen from place to place across the country,” says Dr Bruce Campbell, COO of Plant & Food Research. “For mānuka, this information can be used in a variety of ways – to protect the species from potential pest and disease threats, as a tool to allow us to domesticate the plant through targeted breeding, or in understanding how different genetic profiles of the plant influence honey characteristics. The information held in the mānuka genome sequence holds a range of cultural, conservation and commercial implications for New Zealand.”
Te Tumu Mere, a Māori-owned company established to support the New Zealand honey industry and championed by Te Tumu Paeroa, the new Māori Trustee, is supportive of the research.
“Identifying and knowing the regional provenance of mānuka is highly important for us to be informed of the whakapapa of these mānuka species,” says Shar Amner, General Manager of Te Tumu Mere. “For TTM, the results and knowledge from this research will support the ongoing work we are developing for and on behalf of landowners.”
The mānuka genome is approximately 300Mb (300 million DNA base pairs), organised into 11 pairs of chromosomes. It is about half the size of its closest relative with a sequenced genome, the flooded or rose gum Eucalyptus grandis (640Mb), and some conservation of gene content and DNA sequences are expected between the two species. The scientists used ‘Crimson Glory’, a widely available ornamental mānuka variety with well documented lineage, to construct the reference sequence.

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Dr Jane Goodall's Coming To Wellington
By: Wellington Zoo
Open Banking: How To Opt In - And Out - Of The New Payment System
Spark Buys Lauriston Solar Farm Output
By: Bill Bennett
Rocket Lab Successfully Launches First Of Two Climate Science Satellites For Nasa
By: Rocket Lab
Businesses Are Hunkering Down And Adjusting To The New Normal – Business Confidence Survey
By: Auckland Business Chamber
‘Cuts In Context’ Report Launch And Visual Display At Parliament Today
By: Taxpayers' Union
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media