Agarwood is a high value oleoresinous wood. It is formed in theheartwood of the tropical Thymelaeaceae Genera Aquilaria and Gyrinops in response to injury and fungal infection. The resin is rich in sesquiterpenes (SQT) that are synthetically non-accessible and remain unique in nature. The resinous wood (Agarwood) and its steam extractable essential oil are used in the production of incenses, ornamental displays, fine perfumery and traditional medicines. Since the early 1990’s the Agarwood market have revealed a continuous and yearly increasing consumer demand (annually over 5 Billion US$). Whereas Indonesia serves as main supplier of bulk Agarwood of moderate quality from various Aquilaria and Gyrinops species, Vietnam is known together with Thailand & Laos to export top quality resinous wood from Aquilaria crasssna.




South East Asiantree genera Aquilaria and Gyrinops are the only botanical resources that can produce Agarwood. However, the biogenesis of the oleoresin is randomized which implies that in natural forest stands only less than 10% of the tree populations within a given habitat contain the resin. Due to the increasing demand, natural populations from both genera are critically endangered and hence are included on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES, 2005). The main aim of VETWOOD is to develop biotechnological enabling tools and knowledge to achieve a sustainable production of Agarwood on various levels of the value chains.

Objectives of the project

  • Development of a plant bioreactor technology for the induced production of unique Agarwood SQT employing Aquilaria plant cells cultures as “factories of high value secondary metabolites”
  • Selection of appropriate host pathogen combinations and inoculation techniques for sustainable high value Agarwood production in plantation and agroforestry systems by artificial inoculations.
  • Molecular fingerprinting of Aquilaria and Gyrinops species that will allow species identification and authentication of wood material

Project coordination

Dr. Claudio Cerboncini

Forschungszentrum Juelich - Institute for Bio- and Geosciences (Plant Sciences)


52428 Juelich


+ 49 (0)2461 61-1766

Sponsored by BMBF and MOST (Hanoi)

Characteristic bark of Aquilaria crassna at Cúc Phương national park, Ninh Bình province, North Việt Nam

High priced Kynam – an endogenic Agarwood resin produced in old Aquilaria trees of the Quảng Nam province, Central Việt Nam

Tangential section of Aquilaria malaccensis heart wood. Lignified xylem cells (red) and resin producing included phloem cells (brown).