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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Regulation of bark and wood growth in trees

Normally tree stems make a single layer of wood (blue cells, bottom of left panel). Changing expression of a single regulatory gene results in the formation of a second wood forming layer (right panel). Dr. Juan Du, Forest ServiceSnapshot : The dividing cells of the cambium meristem provide cells that differentiate in either wood or bark. Although fundamental to how trees grow, regulation of these processes is poorly understood. We identified and characterized specific genes that regulate where the cambium forms, and how the bark and wood tissues differentiate.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Groover, Andrew T. 
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 365


The stem of forest trees contains a layer of dividing cells called the vascular cambium. These cells ultimately differentiate into either bark or wood tissues, and over time are responsible for the radial growth of the stem. Using genomics-based technologies, genes regulating specific aspects of stem growth were identified and characterized in poplar trees. One gene, named popREVOLUTA, was shown to control the formation of the cambium and the patterning of the woody tissues derived from the cambium. A related gene, popCORONA, was shown to regulate how the cells derived from the cambium differentiate. Together these genes give fundamental insights into how the woody growth of tree stems is regulated, and provide specific targets for tailoring woody growth for applications including bioenergy feedstocks.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Ciera Martinez, UC Davis