Eucalypt Genome Expands Terpene Synthesis Knowledge

Terpenes are economically and ecologically important phytochemicals.

The Science

Characterizing the terpene synthase (TPS) gene family lineage in closely related Corymbia and Eucalyptus species will enable researchers to develop strategies to increase terpene production for biofuel development.

  • Compared putative genes from C. citriodora to known TPS gene sequences from Eucalyptus species and other plants.
  • The locations of TPS genes and gene clusters were mapped against those of E. grandis to find differences in genome organization between the two species.
  • Sequenced mRNA from different tissues of C. citriodora. From these samples, a total of 127 TPS loci were found, many of which had high sequence similarity to TPS genes from other plants.

The Impact

  • Identified 102 total putative functional TPS genes in C. citriodora.
  • TPS genes found in C. citriodora suggest that these plants synthesize a high level of secondary metabolites, which play a part in biotic and abiotic stress responses.
  • Targeting this gene family may enable researchers’ selection of specific TPS genes to increase terpene production for biofuel production.


Butler, J. B., J. S. Freeman, B. M. Potts, R. E. Vaillancourt, D. Grattapaglia, O. B. Silva-Junior, B. A. Simmons, A. L. Healey, J. Schmutz, K. W. Barry, D. J. Lee, R. J. Henry, G. J. King, A. Baten, and M. Shepherd.  2018. “Annotation of the Corymbia Terpene Synthase Gene Family Shows Broad Conservation but Dynamic Evolution of Physical Clusters Relative to Eucalyptus,” Heredity 121(1), 87–104. DOI:10.1038/s41437-018-0058-1.