Breakthroughs in Poplar Genomics Improve Bioenergy Feedstock Options
Biofuels are an important contribution to green energy development that meets the demands of a growing population. Poplars are of particular interest because they are fast growing, they have desirable wood properties, and they can serve as a model for studying the genetic foundation of wood formation. Forest Service scientists recently established a new germplasm resource for hybrid poplars that helps researchers identify the genes and processes that determine biofuels feedstock properties in fast growing poplars. To accomplish this, pollen was treated with irradiation to cause chromosomal breaks, mimicking a natural process by which genetic variation is created in trees. The pollen was then used in controlled crosses to establish several hundred hybrid seedling trees. The genome of each of these trees was sequenced and used to pinpoint the exact location of chromosomal breaks, which can now be used to identify chromosomal regions and genes that influence specific feedstock properties. This new research tool is a promising step towards the goal of being able to rapidly develop cultivars with superior bioenergy feedstock traits.
Forest Service Partners