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Signatures of selection inscribed on poplar genomes
Date:8/24/2014

One aspect of the climate change models researchers have been developing looks at how plant ranges might shift, and how factors such as temperature, water availability, and light levels might come into play. Forests creeping steadily north and becoming established in the thawing Arctic is just one of the predicted effects of rising global temperatures.

A recent study published online August 24, 2014 in Nature Genetics offers a more in-depth, population-based approach to identifying such mechanisms for adaptation, and describes a method that could be harnessed for developing more accurate predictive climate change models. For the U.S. Department of Energy, which is developing biomass crops for biofuels production, this knowledge could determine which genotypes genetic makeup of an organism of biomass crop may thrive better than others in certain environments. The team led by Gerald Tuskan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) a DOE Office of Science user facility and Stephen DiFazio of West Virginia University, used a combination of genome-wide selection scans and analyses to understand the processes involved in shaping the genetic variation of natural poplar (Populus trichocarpa) populations.

As part of this long-term study, the team took samples from 1,100 poplar trees growing in wild populations in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. They then clonally propagated (through cuttings) these trees in three plantations in California and Oregon. For their analyses, they pared the group down to 544 unrelated individuals whose genotypes could be accurately determined so as to characterize the genetic basis for variation in adaptation. The shift from an approach focused on single candidate genes to the large-scale computational approach analyzing all of them is made possible by the availability of the poplar genome, which was published in the journal Scien
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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
925-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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