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Acacia Genomics


Acacia covers about 7% of South Africa’s forestry estate, making it a key species of economical importance in South Africa. Wattle is used as a fuel source and is exported for use in Kraft pulp production. Wattle productivity in South Africa is negatively impacted by an ongoing wattle rust epidemic that is caused by a fungus, Uromycladium acaciae. Due to the relative infancy of genomics data for Acacia, when compared to other major fast growing tree species, studies to understand the susceptibility of wattle to wattle rust infection is still limited. Field observations show that green wattle (Acacia decurrens)  exhibits some resistance to wattle rust, while black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) remains susceptible. One of the main efforts currently being made by the South African forestry industry is to create hybrids between green and black wattle to take advantage of the observed resistance of green wattle to rust. 


At FMG, we aim to develop an Acacia molecular toolkit by assembling the genome of black wattle to establish a valuable resource for future studies to unravel the genetic structure of wattle and create a basis for molecular breeding studies in wattle. In addition, we have mined the genome of black wattle to identify microsatellite markers for routine genotyping in Acacia, these are currently being used to develop a microsatellite marker resource for wattle growers in South Africa, and will be available through the Precision Tree Breeding Platform in 2023.

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