Eucalyptus - a global fibre crop
Eucalyptus tree species and hybrids have over the past five decades become the most widely planted hardwoods in the world. Eucalypts are extensively planted in the tropics and subtropics and some temperate regions. They are mostly grown as exotics (they are endemic to Australia and some islands to the north of the continent). These fast-growing plantations are today supporting multi-billion dollar industries based on eucalypt fibre (pulp, paper, cellulose, etc), and hardwood products (poles, construction, furniture, etc). Eucalypt species and hybrids have also been identified as potential biomass crops and feedstocks for the renewable production of cellulosic biofuels. Extensive use of interspecific hybridization and clonal propagation offers tremendous opportunities for the application of biotechnology in almost all aspects of eucalypt tree improvement.
Two major eucalypt genome sequencing projects have been completed in the USA and in Japan. At KAZUSA DNA Research Institute in Japan, a draft genome sequence has been completed for E. camaldulensis. The US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) has completed a draft 8X assembly of the E. grandis genome. The first annotation of the E. grandis genome has been completed and released via Phytozome.