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Young WA scientist aims for the heart of sandalwood.



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DAFF05/78PM - 3 November 2005

Young WA scientist aims for the heart of sandalwood

A project to improve supply chains in Australia's Indian sandalwood industry has won WA's Chris Jones the Forest and Wood Products R&D Corporation-sponsored prize in the 2005 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Mr Jones, from Crawley, was one of 16 winners of the prestigious awards, each of whom will receive up to $10,000 to complete a project of long-term benefit to Australia's agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food or natural resource management industries.

They received their awards from Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Peter McGauran at a special ceremony in Parliament House, Canberra last night.

"Indian sandalwood is a small but highly valuable tree that is being grown in the Kimberly region of Western Australia," Mr McGauran said.

"The timber, which contains essential oils, is so valuable that stands of the trees throughout its natural distribution are at risk of being over-exploited.

"The heartwood oil content is highly variable, and genetically controlling its production - from every tree - may be the key to boosting its reliability.

"Mr Jones will use modern molecular techniques to identify some of the enzymes responsible for producing the oil and use them to develop specific genetic markers.

"He will also use genetic, market-based breeding strategies, and undertake research into the trees' chemical ecology, to help secure their future as a high-value plantation crop."

The award is one nine sponsored by Australia's rural R&D corporations (RDCs). There are also seven State-based awards.

They give talented and enthusiastic young people in rural and regional Australia the opportunity and funding to help turn their ideas into reality.

The winners receive prize money to complete a project of long-term benefit to Australia's agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food or natural resource management industries.

The awards are supported by the Australian Government and Australian Wool Innovation, Land & Water Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia, and the Fisheries, Forest & Wood Products, Grains, Grape & Wine, Rural Industries and Sugar RDCs.

They are coordinated by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS).

More information: Kylie Paulsen, BRS, 0438 630 491. For a full list of this year's winners, and details of their projects, visit: www.daff.gov.au/scienceawards

Further media inquiries:

Minister McGaurans' office: Nancy Joseph 02 6277 7520

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