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

BER Research Highlights


New Technologies Facilitate Investigation of Wood Formation
Published: August 21, 2014
Posted: October 03, 2014

Woody plants are an important source of renewable biomass for bioenergy feedstocks. Wood formation is a complex, highly regulated process generating key sources of material for bioenergy and bioproducts. Understanding the gene regulatory networks underlying wood formation would facilitate efforts to develop higher biomass yielding, sustainable trees as bioenergy feedstocks. However, the nature of woody material makes it recalcitrant to genetic manipulation, presenting a significant challenge. Researchers funded by the Department of Energy’s Genomic Science program report the development of two new methods optimized for woody material and expediting molecular genetic approaches for investigating wood formation in Populus trichocarpa, a model woody plant and bioenergy feedstock. They detail systematic and extensive modification of the chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) procedure, widely used to identify chromatin-associated DNA-protein interactions in nonwoody plants and animals, making it usable for the first time with wood-forming tissues. Using this new protocol, the researchers identified genome-wide specific transcription factor-DNA interactions associated with the regulation of wood formation. They also describe a new higher-yielding and faster method for the isolation and transfection of high-quality protoplasts from P. trichocarpa wood-forming tissue. Protoplasts are useful for transient transgene expression-based studies, particularly for woody plants that are difficult to genetically transform and for which mutants are unavailable. Both methods should be broadly applicable to other woody species, enabling comparative analyses of the evolution of the genetic regulation and epigenetic modifications of wood formation. These advances will facilitate essential genome-wide studies of wood formation and biomass productivity in woody feedstocks.

References: Li, W., Y.-C. Lin, Q. Li, R. Shi, C.-Y. Lin, H. Chen, L. Chuang, G.-Z. Qu, R. R. Sederoff, and V. L. Chiang. 2014. “A Robust Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Protocol for Studying Transcription Factor-DNA Interactions and Histone Modifications in Wood-Forming Tissue,” Nature Protocols 9(9), 2180-93. DOI:10.1038/nprot.2014.146. (Reference link)

Lin, Y.-C., W. Li, H. Chen, Q. Li, Y.-H. Sun, R. Shi, C.-Y. Lin, J. P. Wang, H.-C. Chen, L. Chuang, G.-Z. Qu, R. R. Sederoff, and V. L. Chiang. 2014. “A Simple Improved-Throughput Xylem Protoplast System for Studying Wood Formation,” Nature Protocols 9(9), 2194-2205. DOI:10.1038/nprot.2014.147. (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: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts

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)