Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) was founded in 1929. Since then, it is dedicated to conservation based on science innovations and researches. In FRIM, there are five research divisions, namely the Forestry and Environment Division, Forestry Biotechnology Division, Forest Biodiversity Division, Natural Products Division and Forest Products Revision. During our excursion, we went to a seed technology lab and genetics laboratory, both are under Forestry Biotechnology Division.
In seed technology lab, we were briefed by Pn. Nadiah Salmi Nadzri, a research officer there. In this lab, the key research areas is management of natural forest.
This lab was equipped with an exhibition space, drying room, cold room, tissue culture room, growth room and biosafety cabinet room. The exhibition space displayed a wide array of seeds that can be found in FRIM. The seeds are processed by drying them in the ...view middle of the document...
Besides, some of the seeds will be used to grow the plant in the growth room. If the seed of a particular plant is difficult to obtain or preserve, this lab also carry out tissue culture to clone important commercial plant such as Agarwood.
For a more efficient, cost-saving and much recent technology compared to storage in cold room, this seed technology lab also have a mini seed banks. After drying the seeds, they are put into a cryo-vial and placed into a liquid nitrogen tank in the biosafety cabinet room. In order to save more cost, currently there is discussion to cryo-preserve our tropical seeds in the north-pole. Thus, basically, this lab is committed to preserve the seeds using various method for conserving genetic resources.
Next, we have a mini-lecture and tour at genetics laboratory. We were introduced to basic genetic concept in conservation and various methods employed in the lab for conservation. There are 4 main functions and 8 key research activities for this lab
One of the case study given was timber tracking. Through DNA markers development such as microsatellite, we can classify the timber species into different haplotype. Once an illegal logging is suspected, DNA extraction is done on the suspected log. The extracted DNA is then analysed through DNA Barcoding for species identification and microsatellites for haplotype identification. Once the haplotype is identified, we can eventually reduce to a smaller radius to find the original log. After tracing back to the suspected original stump, genotyping of microsatellite for the log and the stump is done. Then, a statistical match between genotype is done to provide a usable evidence in court.
There are also some other biotechnological methods used for conservations in this lab. Some of the highlights includes genome sequencing, the search for flowering-time genes and transcriptome study of Tongkat Ali (E. longifolia). These are essential for understanding of plant physiology so that we can better conserve them in the future.
The excursion was then ended with a tour inside the lab.