U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Resequencing Poplar To Improve Its Use as a Bioenergy Feedstock
Published: August 03, 2012
Posted: October 18, 2012

The fast-growing black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa), a fast-growing tree that inhabits stream and river banks across a long north-south range of western North America, has been identified as a promising bioenergy crop. Many genetic and genomic resources for Populus have been developed and are being used to study the molecular basis of desirable traits such as biomass yield, cell wall characteristics, and environmental adaptation. To develop superior Populus cultivars for bioenergy feedstocks, it is necessary to understand the genetic and genomic structure of the Populus population to reliably detect phenotype-genotype associations, which informs suitable breeding approaches. Researchers at the DOE BioEnergy Research Center (BESC), together with the DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), sequenced the genomes of 16 different black cottonwood varieties, broadly spanning north to south of the species' native range, and determined the population structure and genetic variation on a geographic scale. They found that significant genetic differentiation existed and was strongly correlated with latitudinal location of the sampled trees, suggesting that this species may have survived the past glaciation in multiple locations along the northwest of North America. The study demonstrates that advanced population genetics approaches should be more feasible in Populus than previously thought, increasing the potential for genetic improvement of Populus as a biofuel feedstock.

Reference: Slavov, G. T., S. P. DiFazio, J. Martin, W. Schackwitz, W. Muchero, E. Rodgers-Melnick, M. F. Lipphardt, C. P. Pennacchio, U. Hellsten, L. A. Pennacchio, T. C. Mockler, M. Freitag, A. Geraldes, Y. A. El-Kassaby, S. D. Mansfield, Q. C. B. Cronk, C. J. Douglas, S. H. Strauss, D. Rokhsar, and G. A. Tuskan. 2012. "Genome Resequencing Reveals Multiscale Geographic Structure and Extensive Linkage Disequilibrium in the Forest Tree Populus trichocarpa," New Phytologist, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04258.x. (Reference link)

Contact: Cathy Ronning, SC-23.2, (301) 903-9549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI)
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)