Populus is one of the flagship plant genomes sequenced by the DOE JGI, and it is of central importance in DOE-funded sustainable biofuels initiatives. One of the primary factors limiting genetic improvement of Populus is a poor understanding of reproductive development, which is essential both for traditional breeding as well as transgenic biosafety. Salix is a near-relative of Populus with a much shorter generation time and smaller stature, making it an excellent model system for studying reproductive development and sex determination. The project focuses on exploring multiple dimensions of sex determination in willow (Salix purpurea) to help advance genetic improvement efforts in both Populus and Salix, enabling accelerated breeding and safe deployment of sustainable biofuel feedstock crops. Developing genome resources to facilitate these comparative studies, and mapping resources that will lead to greater understanding of the genetic basis for sex determination, are fundamental to enhanced breeding for bioenergy traits in woody feedstock species.
Proposer’s Name: Steven DiFazio, West Virginia University