Scion joins Genomic Aotearoa partnership with expertise in tree genomics

For immediate release
24 December 2021

Scion’s expertise in tree genomics will be invaluable as a new partner with Genomics Aotearoa, adding to the cutting-edge of national and international collaboration opportunities.

Scion Crown Research Institute signed the partnership with Genomics Aotearoa in September, 2021, joining nine other partners from New Zealand Crown Research Institutes and universities. The aim is to ensure New Zealand is internationally participating and leading in the rapidly developing fields of genomics and bioinformatics.

Scion specialises in research, science and technology development for forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors.

Scion is using genomics technologies to assemble the Pinus radiata genome and is developing molecular tools to assist the genetic improvement of new Pinus radiata varieties.

Genomics are used to characterise the function and genetic diversity of genes responsible for key forestry and wood product traits for the economic, social, environmental and cultural benefit of New Zealand.

Scion General Manager Forest to Timber Products Roger Hellens says New Zealand has a wealth of genomics expertise and coordinating this through Genomics Aotearoa demonstrates the power of collaboration.

“By joining Genomics Aotearoa, researchers at Scion can learn from experts and share some of the technical challenges that face genomics research in tree species, with some of the larger genomes yet to be assembled and analysed.

“We are excited to bring our Māori partnerships to the conversations that Genomics Aotearoa are continuing regarding cultural aspects of indigenous genomics, to co-create research that is respectful of Te Tiriti values and intergenerational perspectives.”

Genomics Aotearoa Director Professor Peter Dearden is delighted Scion has joined the partnership, extending the collaboration Scion researchers already have with Genomics Aotearoa’s projects.

“Genomic data underpins a new way of understanding of basic biology, and globally is becoming integral to managing our environment as well as in human health diagnoses. New Zealand genomics researchers are adopting new sequencing and genome analysis techniques in the laboratories of universities and research institutes across the country, enabling New Zealand to produce its own genomic knowledge specific to our unique population, our species and environment and our economic needs.

“We welcome Scion’s expertise in tree genomics and look forward to the opportunities this will provide in further extending genomics into New Zealand’s primary production sector.”

Genomics Aotearoa is a partnership between AgResearch, ESR, Plant & Food Research, Manaaki Whenua - LandcareResearch, and the Universities of Auckland, Massey, Otago, Waikato, and Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington.

It has national collaborations and funded projects in health, environment and primary production, a bioinformatics analytical platform and has just established a national genomics data repository. Te Ao Māori is at the centre of these activities. Genomics Aotearoa is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Strategic Science Investment Fund.