The research studied the induction and formation process of reaction wood, either under natural growth conditions or provoked artificially in growing trees.
The occurrence of reaction wood in the stem of a tree is essentially dependent on various growth factors, as it is produced by the plant as a result of external stimuli. However, the nature of reaction to these stimuli differs according to the genotype, resulting in a variety of reaction wood types among wood species. Therefore the identification of genetic factors involved in the biogenesis pathways was required to understand the formation and regulation of reaction wood.
The effect of genetic manipulations on reaction wood production, either through traditional tree selection techniques or the use of transgenic material, needed to be considered. The evolutionary aspect behind the two main strategies developed by conifers (compression wood) and angiosperms (tension wood) was addressed.
On the other hand, the stimuli controlling reaction wood formation was studied in connection with practical issues at the forestry level but also integrated into a general biomechanical approach relating the mechanical function of reaction wood to biochemical processes involved in wood formation.
The scientists participating in this Working Group were:
- Foresters involved in tree selection and tree breeding
- Biologists working on the genetics and biogenesis of reaction wood, physiology, eco-physiology and architecture of trees
- Engineers studying and modelling the structural mechanics of cells and trees, or the information flow within plants.
In fact, rather than actually solving all the scientific problems associated with reaction wood formation, which would be a large programme in itself, this Working Group combined existing knowledge and stimulate related research, through the promotion of cooperation between these very different disciplines. Therefore the interdisciplinary approach required in the whole area was particularly relevant for this Working Group.