Genetic and environmental control of essential oil biosynthesis in West Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

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Abstract

[Truncated] West Australian sandalwood, Santalum spicatum R. Br. DC, has long been exploited for its aromatic heartwood which contains a rich mixture of sesquiterpenes. Essential oil composition can be highly variable and while this variation is of interest from a chemical ecology perspective, it also offers insight into the importance of sesquiterpene biosynthesis in sandalwood. Western Australia contains the largest plantations of the two commercially dominant species of sandalwood; S. album in the Tropical North and S. spicatum in the semi-arid south-west (wheatbelt) region. Plantations were developed to address conservation concerns and ensure continuation of the growing industry as S. spicatum is still harvested from natural stands. Improved management of plantations and natural stands will be enhanced by better understanding:
i) the natural variation in heartwood-oil composition in wild S. spicatum trees
ii) the genetic and environmental influences on oil composition and
iii) pathway genes involved in total oil production.
This information could be used to guide future tree improvement programs.
The aims of this study are two fold. One is to advance the current knowledge of the genetic and environmental factors which control essential oil biosynthesis in order to improve and exploit the commercial aspects of the oil, and the second is to aid in the conservation of this species which is currently harvested from natural stands.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2014


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