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Poplar Genetics

Association Genetics of Growth, Water Use Efficiency, and Chemical Composition of Wood in Populus trichocarpa


Different genotypes of poplar vary in their growth, efficiency in using water, and the chemical composition of their wood.

Our goal is to identify genes for the traits of growth, water use, and wood composition in Populus trichocarpa with a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker. The population we are investigating includes a collection of 460 clones, representing 101 provenances from Oregon and Washington.


Our results should contribute to the identification of important traits in selecting P. trichocarpa clones for biofuel production.

The information produced will also help guide the application of genome-based breeding approaches, in the context of the genetic improvement of poplar trees for biofuels.


To phenotype the 460 P. trichocarpa clones, we have analyzed samples from ground wood increment cores. We have assessed leaf water use efficiency by measuring carbon isotope discrimination, profiled wood metabolytes by gas chromatography-TOF mass spectrometry, and measured the cellulose and lignin contents.

We have also started the initial steps necessary for the genotyping (by Sequence Capture) of the 460 clones. This information will be utilized for single SNP marker/haplotype-phenotype association analyses for all measured traits.

Tall poplar trees tower over a car parked next to them
Genetic research on Populus trichocarpa at UC Davis