A Vietnamese student in Australia has made a breakthrough in propagating tropical wooden trees that are valued both for industrial production as well as environmental protection.
"I want to complete my PhD on enhancing hardwood trees for use in plantations in Australia and Vietnam," Cao Dinh Hung, a 36-year-old student for PhD degree at the University of Sunshine Coast (USC), was quoted by the Sunshine Coast Daily as saying Monday.
"I want to assist in reducing deforestation while establishing and improving plantations in our countries."
Hung enrolled at USC a few years ago because of its reputation as Australia's leading university for tropical forestry research.
Working with Stephen Trueman, associate professor in biology at the university, Hung figured out a way of using synthetic seeds to create new eucalyptus and African seedlings. Both are difficult to propagate using the traditional method of cutting.
Hung's process involves a small tree bud being inserted into a gel bead. After treatment in the laboratory, the bead grows new shoots and roots and can be propagated in nurseries.
Dr. Trueman said the new method allows the creation of stronger trees in an easier and quicker way.
"Normally from one seed we can produce 100 plants in a year"¦ This way we can produce about 10 million a year, with half the process in the lab and half in the nursery," he told the Sunshine Coast Daily .
"It also means we can select the trees with the best wood quality for plantations and best carbon sequestration for the environment."
The African mahogany produces wood that is even more precious than eucalyptus and its bark, seeds and leaves can be used in treating cancer, malaria and diarrhea.
The study was published in Australia's Botany magazine.
Dr. Trueman said the benefits might happen even sooner as Hung last week sent a batch of the new synthetic seeds to nurseries to have them germinated so they could be grown in plantations for the construction industry.
Hung told local news website VnExpress that he's trying to find support for post-doctoral research and will come back to Vietnam when he's still young so he can contribute to the country.
The graduate of Vietnam's Hue University of Science had spent several years doing research before signing up for a master degree at the Sydney University of Technology with AusAID scholarship.