Tea Tree Breeding 2019 – 2023

Southern Cross University

  • Project code: PRJ-011309

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Thursday, March 28, 2019

  • Project completion date: Friday, May 12, 2023

  • Jounral Articles From Project: A high quality draft genome for Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) - a new platform for evolutionary genomics of myrtaceous terpene-rich species Gigabyte (Issue: 1 on 14/8/2021), Higher stock plant nitrogen and phosphorus levels favor rooting on mini cuttings of tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden & Betche) Cheel). Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science (Issue: 184 on 7/11/2021), Strigolactone analogue GR24 reduces axillary bud out break and growth in tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden & Betche) Cheel. Advances in Horticultural Science (Issue: 35 on 3/1/2022), VOELKER, J., MAULEON, R. & SHEPHERD, M. 2023a. The terpene synthase gene family of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree). Plant Systematics and Evolution (Issue: in press on 17/3/2023), VOELKER, J., SHEPHERD, M. & MAULEON, R. 2023b. A terpene synthase supergene determines chemotype in Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), submitted. submitted (Issue: submitted on 17/3/2023), LOWE, G., ROSE, T., RAYMOND, C. & SHEPHERD, M. 2022. Effect of stock plant growing medium and density upon a cutting propagation system for tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia. Plants, 11, 2421. Plants (Issue: 11, 2421 on 8/8/2022), A terpene synthase supergene locus determines chemotype in Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) New Phytologist (Issue: on line on 22/9/2023)

  • National Priority: TTO-Improving supply


1. Work towards an agreed product profile.
2. Generate a pipeline of new cultivars with a target release date commencing 2023.
3. A cultivar release will be determined to have occurred when a pack of seeds (minimum of 200) or tray of 10 clones is passed from the breeder to the propagator.
4. Maximise genetic gains by releasing cultivars as clones or full sib families from annual testing and selection in an intensively managed elite population.
5. Improve a broadly based main breeding population in discrete generations by open pollination. This will act as a resource to enable progressive infusion of new genes (alleles) into the elite population, and as a backup resource for supplying a next generation of open pollinated seed cultivars.
6. Generate controlled bi-parental crosses in an elite population to maximise gain per year.
7. Secure, document and curate meta-data describing TTBP I physical resources. This will underpin management of the CropStoreDB for Tea Tree integrated database that will capture all relevant cumulative data and meta-data in common formats.
8. Establish secure germplasm resource collections as duplicated seed repository and living collection(s), with potential for live duplication on SCU land in Lismore, and possible duplication on producers’ land holdings.
9. Establish an open pollinated progeny trial, which if required, may be converted to an orchard to supply a next generation open pollinated seedling cultivar in 2026.
10. Elite genotypes from TTBP I will be captured by cloning for use in a controlled pollination orchard, and archived in a clone bank.


Tea Tree Oil

Research Organisation

Southern Cross University

Objective Summary

Continuation of Tea Tree Oil Breeding Program: To operate a new breeding program commencing in July 2017 for a five-year period