Evaluating legality of harvested wood using genomics

Photo: Scientist at a lab table with students around him.
Richard Cronn, research geneticist, Pacific Northwest Research Station, demonstrated the finer points of capturing DNA on paramagnetic beads. Photo courtesy Kristen Finch, Oregon State University.


—In late April, forest geneticists from the Genetics and Silvicultural Foundations of Management team at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, staff from International Programs and researchers from Oregon State University hosted scientists from Peru to provide training and discuss genomic approaches for evaluating the legality of harvested wood.

This week-long training event, “Avances en la identificacion y mapeo genetico de Cedrela” (Advances in identification and genetic mapping of Cedrela), provided visitors with hands-on training in methods used to isolate DNA from wood, produce genomic data and evaluate genetic assays to detect Spanish cedar, Cedrela odorata, and its close relatives in the mahogany family. The group wrapped up the event with a visit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, to see state-of-the-art instrumentation used for screening wood and wood products that are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna, or CITES.

This training event is one of two meetings that the Pacific Northwest Research Station and U.S. Forest Service International Programs will organize in 2018 to improve the capacity of Latin American countries to evaluating the legality of wood trade from CITES-listed tree species.