Quantifying teak age to understand impact of climate stress
Project start: 2022
Plant DNA undergoes dynamic changes in methylation at the cytosine base. Bisulfite treatment followed by sequencing is the most common method to quantitatively estimate DNA methylation at high resolution. In human genome, aging associated DNA methyaltion can serve as clock to determine age and we wish to do so in the plants for the first time.
Development of such methods will be highly useful to Forest Departments managing trees across the Indian landscape. For instance, we will be able to know the age of trees of unknown age growing in the forest. Knowing the age of a tree can also be used in forensics, certification and enforcement for illegal logging. It will also aid in management of economically valuable species like teak or sal as we will know at what age the productivity of the tree goes down (whether it be carbon sequestration, growth rates, survival or seed production). Finally, if the method works, it can be applied to other species as well and can test the impact of climate and other variables on tree growth dynamics.