Oil palm is one of the world's key commercial crops—the fruit and seeds of the oil palm are the source of nearly one-half of the supply of edible vegetable oil worldwide, and provide one of the most promising sources of biofuel. But as demand for the product has grown, rainforests, particularly those in South East Asia, have suffered. Trees have been felled to make way for the crop. Now though, we have insight into the plant's genes and their link to greater sustainability. A multinational team of scientists, including Dr. Rob Martienssen at CSHL, has identified a single gene that regulates yield of the oil palm tree. Dr. Rob Martienssen leads the plant biology group at CSHL, where he focuses on epigenetic mechanisms that shape and regulate the genome, and their impact on development and inheritance.
Read the related story: Full genome map of oil palm indicates a way to raise yields and protect rainforest