Since the publication of the genome sequence of the first tree, the black cottonwood or poplar Populustrichocarpain 2006 by the DOE Joint Genome Institute, a growing community of researchers have been engaged in advancing the development of poplar as a candidatefeedstockfornext-generationbiofuelsowing to the tree’s compact genome, rapid growth and life cycle. One area of study concerns the genetic variations in relation to geography. This can help scientists create or breed the optimum genome for different regions of the country.
Members of the research team from the DOE JGI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of British Columbia commemorating in 2006 the publication of the poplar genome, have just published new findings. (Image: DOE JGI)In a study published in the August 3 issue of New Phytologist, researchers, including those from the DOE JGI, found that the latitudinal location of the sampled poplars strongly correlates with genetic differences. DOE JGI resequenced 16 genomes of different poplar subpopulations for the study.In unprecedented scope and size, the study provides a wealth of information for scientists to refer to when trying to relate phenotypic expression (e.g. cellulose production, sugar release) to genotypic information. It gives additional opportunities for marker-assisted breeding through genomic selection for traits like rapid growth or disease resistance that will further reinforce poplar as one of the cellulosic biofuels feedstocks of choice.