Philippine Government ventured on ‘genetic diversity’ of Narra tree


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The Government innovates agriculture through the advancement of science and technology for species conservation. The increasing demand for resources continuously threatens the existence of species.

Narra, the national tree of the Philippines, undergone government’s genetic diversity program. The program aims to conserve forest to address the threats on economic resources such as the endangered Narra and Rattan, as an industrial tree.

What is Genetic Diversity?

Variation of genes is the basis of evolution that selects the best ‘desirable’ trait of species which is favorable on their environment.

Respectively, according to the report of Philstar News, “the Ecosystems Research & Development Bureau (ERDB) has started carrying out DNA analysis of these economically important tree species as long term support to the DENR’s national greening program (NGP).”

Importance of Genetic Diversity

ERDB director Sofio Quintana explained that assessment of genetic variation among and within populations is essential for the success of any tree breeding and selection programs.

After acquiring DNA’s of the Narra tree, results from ERDB found out that the Narra tree from six different provinces (Ilocos Sur, Cebu, Iloilo, Marinduque, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quezon) have good levels of genetic variation. More importantly, results shown that this can serve as good sources of potentially useful genes. ERDB identified these provinces have potential sources of good planting materials for Narra reforestation.

Reasons to preserve Narra tree

Apart from being the country’s national tree, Narra is common for medicinal, ornamental, and nitrogen-fixing functions. Narra’s timber is being exported to Asia, Europe, US, and Australia, accounted to volumes of sawn timber at high prices of $600 per cubic meter according to the “Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry.”

Impact of Genetic Diversity Program

“2018 Genetic Diversity: A Key Component for Conserving Philippine Forest Trees,” is the project of ERDB which conserves tree through identifying trees with high survival rate. Thus, alleles( forms of genes) from these trees will be selected due to its characteristic to favor the environment.

The report stated, “having less genetic diversity leads to uniformity, with the population having individuals less likely to adapt and survive in the changing environment.

Little genetic variation within species impedes the process of healthy reproduction as evidenced by the expression of harmful traits in the offspring resulting from inbreeding.”.

In history, in the year 1980, Panama disease was rampant in killing the population of banana. Banana, as genetically identical, provides little to no resistance against the disease.

ERDB explained that venturing genetic diversity determines the susceptibility of these Narra populations to pests (ambrosia beetles). These pests are the causative agent of fusarium wilt. Doing genetic diversity on Narra prevents species extinction.

Reference/s:

Government embarks on ‘genetic diversity’ program on narra


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An Agribusiness economist. I scribble more about agriculture, politics and economics.

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