Genome-Enabled Discovery of Carbon Sequestration Gene in Poplar


     An initial conceptual framework now exists for describing how whole-plant processes such as source-sink relationships and sink strength are influenced, and indeed regulated, at the genetic level. Based on this hypothesis, we are leveraging the Populus genome to discover genes important to the process of carbon sequestration in plants and soils. We are focusing on the identification of genes that control points for the flow and anabolic transformations of carbon in roots, concentrating on genes that favor increased sink activity and synthesis of chemical forms that favor slow turnover rates of soil organic matter. Our key approaches are de novo gene discovery, comparative and functional genomics, transgenesis, high-throughput metabolic phenotyping, and tissue-specific expression profiling. We seek to enhance carbon allocation (i.e., the movement of carbon into sink tissues) and partitioning (i.e., the deposition of carbon in various chemical forms) to roots by altering the auxin and cytokinin signaling pathways. We are also undertaking two major gene discovery efforts aimed at identifying novel genes that control carbon allocation and partitioning in Populus. This broad, integrated approach is aimed at ultimately enhancing root biomass as well as longevity, thus providing the best prospects for significant enhancement of belowground carbon storage.
The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Identify candidate genes with putative roles in belowground carbon allocation and partitioning.
  1. Explore the functions of candidate genes using Populus transformation, focusing on a variety of transgenic approaches for characterizing putative carbon allocation and partitioning gene function.
  1. Evaluate effects of candidate genes and implications for carbon sequestration using a combination of high-throughput whole-plant physiological measurements, GC/MS-based metabolic profiling, and microarray-based expression profiling.
     This research will be conducted as a collaborative project by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Florida, Oregon State University, United States Forest Service, University of Minnesota and the University of Tennessee. of Tennessee.


Oak Ridge National LaboratoryPlant Genomics Group  Oregon State University  University of Florida Department of Energy