The tropical Acacia species are largely used in the pulp and paper industries as fiber source due to their characteristics of high pulp yield and high fiber quality. In addition, Acacia species can grow vigorously, have good timber quality, and can grow on adverse soil. Therefore, the plantation of Acacia species is increased rather than that of other fast-growing trees in Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.
Although the acacias are advantageous as fast-growing trees for plantation in various viewpoints, the more improvement of wood properties and disease resistance are strongly desired by pulp and paper industries for reducing the production costs. Therefore, the following traits should be improved in Acacia: 1) disease resistance for the large-scale mono-plantation, 2) chemical properties of wood such as lignin and cellulose content to reduce the production cost of wood products, CO2 emission, and hazardous byproducts, 3) the wood properties including shape and strength suitable for construction materials. The improvement of above traits might be achieved by the conventional selection of elite trees. However, the selection of elite trees is highly dependent on chance, and required longer period because the trees have a long (3–4 years) reproductive cycle. In contrast, molecular breeding based on genetic information and transgenic technology of Acacia species offers several advantages over the conventional breeding method as follows: 1) genes from any biological species can be transferred to tree, 2) introduction of molecular changes by transgenic technology takes lesser time, and 3) a single gene can be transferred to transgenic trees, which is contrast to conventional plant breeding often associated with the simultaneous transfer of undesired genes.
In the proposed research, therefore we are conducting the improvement of wood properties in tropical Acacia trees including Acacia mangium and A. crassicarpa using molecular breeding method.