University of Montana Professor Diana Six is one of 12 authors of a new report that addresses the potential for biotechnology to provide solutions for protecting forest trees from insect and pathogen outbreaks, which are increasing because of climate change and expanded global trade.
The report, titled "Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations," was released Jan. 8 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
A range of strategies can be used to respond to forest health threats, including invasive species prevention strategies, site management practices, biological control agents, natural genetic resistance or biotechnological modifications used to confer resistance to a species. Biotechnology has the potential to help mitigate threats by introducing pest-resistant traits, the report says, but research is needed to help meet challenges presented by this approach. The report identifies the ecological, economic and social implications of deploying biotechnology in forests and also develops a research agenda to address knowledge gaps about the application of the technology.
More information about the report can be found in the official NASEM press release.
Six is a professor of forest entomology and pathology in UM's W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. Her primary research focuses on the evolution and maintenance of symbioses, particularly among bark beetles, ambrosia beetles and fungi. She also conducts research on various aspects of bark beetle ecology and management, including investigations into how bark beetles may affect the ability of forests to adapt to climate change.