My main objective is to provide new insights about the molecular mechanisms controlling secondary meristems (cambium / phellogen) differentiation in wood/cork formation, and wood/cork trait variation, in order to to develop molecular tools to assist selection/improvement of important forest species (e.g. maritime pine, eucalypts, cork-oaks).
In forestry, particular attention has been given to secondary growth resulting from secondary meristem activity (vascular cambium and cork cambium).
The vascular cambium (derived from procambium) plays a major role in the diametral growth of woody plants shoots and roots, ensuring the perennial life of trees through the regular renewing of functional xylem (wood) to the insideand phloem to the outside.
Cork, the outer-bark of the cork-oak (Quercus suber) is formed by the division of the phellogen (“cork cambium”). Immature cork cells are parenchymatous with thin primary walls, but during maturation, a thick layer of suberin is deposited on the walls, finally resulting in the death of the cells. Phellogen is unique in its long-living and high activity, producing in about 10 years a thick layer (up to 5 cm) of a mostly homogeneous suberized tissue.