Populus is one of DOE’s “flagship” plant species that is of special interest as a biofuel feedstock. Sphaerulina musiva, the cause of Septoria stem canker and leaf-spot disease, is one of the most economically important pathogens and a major limiting factor in the use of Populus as a biofuel feedstock in North America. We propose to perform RNA-seq and metabolomics of resistant and susceptible genotypes to develop mixed-‘omics’ models that can be used to explain phenotypic responses and guide efforts to breed and deploy genotypes with durable resistance to disease. To achieve this goal, we will leverage the completed whole-genome re-sequencing of a population of 1,081 P. trichocarpa natural variants. The resources generated by this proposal will enable an unprecedented linkage of transcriptomics and metabolomics data in a bioenergy crop. This information will also contribute to the development of mixed-‘omics’ models elucidating resistance in P.trichocarpa to S. musiva. In the short term, the proposed research will provide novel insights that will inform genetic improvement of Populus as a cost-effective sustainable biomass feedstock, a research area highly relevant to DOE’s mission.
Proposer: Jared LeBoldus, Oregon State University