Forestry Genetics Information System
FABI, the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, at the University of Pretoria, is a post-graduate research institute that was established in 1997, based on a recognition that the future of forestry and agriculture in South Africa will strongly depend on the incorporation of new and emerging technologies into these industries. Major opportunities for these industries have emerged in recent times, from the applications of biotechnology and bioinformatics, amongst many others. FABI scientists undertake goal-directed research, in partnership with major players in the forestry and agricultural sectors in South Africa and in so doing, promote both human capital and industrial development in the country.
The Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme, headed by Prof. Zander Myburg, is based at the University of Pretoria's Department of Genetics and is affiliated with FABI. Our research focuses on the genetic control of wood development in fast-growing plantation trees, primarily Eucalyptus and tropical pines grown in South Africa. We utilise a number of research and technology platforms, namely: tree genomics; high-throughput DNA marker analysis; functional genetics; as well as wood phenotyping. We work in close collaboration with South African forestry companies to develop capacity and resources for the application of tree biotechnology in operational tree improvement programmes.
Analysis of genome information for hundreds to thousands of individual trees requires bioinformatics capacity for managing and interpreting large amounts of genomics data. FMG has implemented webservices and commercial software packages to facilitate modular development tools and pipelines. These pipelines can be accessed by group members for high-throughput genomics analysis, and enable quality control processing of raw data and downstream analyses such as genome annotation, gene expression analysis, detection of genomic variants, and discovery of genetics associations. This tool, bioplasm, enables industry to interact more easily with FMG for genomics analysis work.