Populus is one of DOE JGI’s Flagship Plant Genome species and is of special interest as a biofuels feedstock. It was selected as the model forest species for genome sequencing due to its modest genome size, rapid growth, relative ease of experimental manipulation and range of available genetic tools. As such, Populus trichocarpa was the first tree species whose whole-genome was sequenced, assembled and annotated. It has the most advanced annotation among all tree species whose genome has been sequenced so far. One of the biggest challenges in converting plant biomass to sugars for biofuels involves the cell wall structures. Many efforts have been made to modify plant cell walls to make woody plant mass easier to break down. This project focuses on gene expression analyses (eQTL studies) of 200 genotypes of Populus crosses. The information is expected to help researchers identify genetic elements and transcriptional networks contributing to complex phenotypic traits of biomass quality, overall productivity and cell wall chemistry, and subsequently provide novel knowledge to inform genetic improvement of Populus trees.
Proposer’s Name: Jay Chen