Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Poplar DNA code cracked - a step in combating global warming?

22.09.2004


Forests cover 30% of the world’s land area, house two thirds of life on earth, and are responsible for 90% of the biomass on dry land. So, the impact of trees on our daily life is enormous. Now, an international consortium − which includes researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) at Ghent University − has succeeded in deciphering the first tree genome, that of the poplar. Gaining knowledge of the poplar DNA is an important step in the research into ‘tree-specific genes’, which can be used to make trees even better air purifiers, to have them grow more quickly, or to make them easier to process into paper.



The poplar as model organism

One can hardly overstate the importance of trees as providers of clean air and energy, or as raw material for furniture, building materials, and other implements. A great many properties found in trees are not found in other plants − like their abilities to provide large quantities of wood, to synchronize their growth with the seasons, and to adapt themselves to changing environmental conditions. They have these vital properties, because they must be able to survive for many years in the same location.


Knowledge of the genome of the poplar (Populus trichocarpa) allows researchers to look for the genes − DNA codes for properties − that are specific to trees. Thus, the poplar − with the relatively limited size of its genome − serves as a model organism for trees. Populus trichocarpa has in fact ‘only’ 520 million base pairs (the DNA building blocks), which is about 50 times fewer than a pine tree. Then again, the poplar has four times as many DNA as Arabidopsis, a model plant whose genome was deciphered four years ago.

In May 2002, the international consortium set to work to determine the poplar’s genome. To do this, they used a female poplar from the banks of the Nisqually River in Washington state (USA). The researchers needed just over two years to determine the 520 million base pairs, distributed among 19 chromosomes.

By comparing the genomes of these two model organisms − Populus and Arabidopsis − scientists such as Yves Van de Peer and Pierre Rouzé hope to identify the genes specific to trees. With the aid of sophisticated computer programs, these VIB bio-informatics researchers will identify the genes in the poplar DNA. On the basis of mathematical algorithms, the researchers predict that the poplar has around 50,000 genes, and they anticipate that about 10,000 of them are not found in Arabidopsis and are therefore possibly ‘tree-specific’.

A variety of applications

With the new data, molecular biologists like Wout Boerjan and his research team can get down to work to discover the functions of the genes. This basic research can provide a wealth of information about how trees work, and it can also provide answers to universal biological questions. Indeed, many of the responses and functions found in plants, and thus trees as well, are also found in human and animal life.

But this research can also lead to particular applications in fields such as ecology. A thorough genetic knowledge enables researchers to modify trees genetically for the benefit of humankind and the environment. The genome sequence can contribute to strategies for improving trees more rapidly or for modifying them genetically. Today, trees are the earth’s lungs − and, for example, they can be modified so that they work more effectively in trapping CO2, the primary greenhouse gas. In addition, new tree varieties can be produced that have a finer timber quality. Wood is also the principal material for paper production, and Wout Boerjan and his team are investigating which genes are crucial to the formation of wood and how they might optimize the structure and composition of wood to improve the production of paper.

Sooike Stoops | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New insight into why Pierce's disease is so deadly to grapevines
11.06.2018 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Where are Europe’s last primary forests?
29.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>