Sprouted poplar

Video: How You Can Grow JGI's Poplar

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The poplar (Populus trichocarpa) was the first tree ever to have its genome sequenced. Now you can propagate the poplar yourself, find out how in a few easy steps.
Laccaria bicolor is fruiting above ground and colonizing the Populus deltoides plant root system below ground in a greenhouse setting. Credit: Jessy Labbe/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

ORNL scientists make fundamental discovery to creating better crops

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. July 22, 2019—A team of scientists led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered the specific gene that controls an important symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi, and successfully facilitated the symbiosis in a plant that typically resists it.

The discovery could lead to the development of bioenergy and food crops that can withstand harsh growing conditions, resist pathogens and pests, require less chemical fertilizer and produce larger and more plentiful plants per acre.

Credit: Carsten Külheim/Michigan Tech  Eucalyptus grows well in hot, dry regions and doesn’t need to be irrigated.

Eucalyptus Genes for Biofuel Production

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ORNL researcher David Kainer is working with scientists from Australia, Germany, and Michigan to isolate Eucalyptus genes for biofuel production. They are investigating the genetic basis of variation in oil yield (terpenes) in blue mallee, a eucalyptus native to Australia.

This visualization shows the genes (yellow squares) associated with callus formation in poplar. These genes have equivalents in humans that control the formation of tumors. The network of genes shown in red is expressed along with the callus-associated genes. The genes in blue are suppressed when the hub genes are active. Graphic courtesy of Dan Jacobson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Tree of life: Poplar studies yield human cancer insights

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While studying the genes in poplar trees that control callus formation, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered genetic networks at the root of tumor formation in several human cancers.

Jerry Tuskan, CBI Director

‘Highly Cited Researchers’ list includes CBI director

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The list recognizes researchers for exceptional performance, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly cited papers ranking in the top one percent by citations for field and year in Web of Science during the 11-year period 2006-2016.

R&D100 Awards

CBI Wins R&D 100 Award

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The TNT Closing system from CBI is a flexible DNA assembly from universal libraries to generate multi-gene constructs was awarded to Gerald Tuskan and Xiaohan Yang have filed a patent application that provides a predefined three-nucleotide (TNT) signature and a buffer system for a quick on-pot reaction. The Gene assembly speed streamlines steps for a system that is up to 80% faster than other assembly systems. 

SC18 Awards

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Gordon Bell Prize

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The ORNL team of Daniel Jacobson, Wayne Joubert, Deborah Weighill, and David Kanier developed a new “CoMet” algorithm that allows supercomputers to process vast amounts of genetic data and identify genes that may be more susceptible to pain and opioid addiction as well as promising treatments.  By running the algorithm supercomputers are able to successfully process genetic data at a magnitude that is four to five times greater than the latest state-of-the-art approaches.  CoMetis currently being used in projects ranging from bioenergy to clinical genomics

infected poplar

Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

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Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species’ inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to more successful hybrid poplar varieties for increased biofuels and forestry production and protect native trees against infection.

Different networks representing biological relationships are integrated and used to provide multiple lines of evidence (LOE) to discover genes that can be manipulated to enhance biofuels and bioproducts. The illustration shows how it works. High-resolution genomic data combined with co-expression datasets are used to build networks and then the networks are layered. Specific genes (orange) are identified, and a LOE score is calculated for each one (an example of the LOE score calculation is shown) that can

Complex networks identify genes for biofuel crops

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Scientists are using different layers of information combined with new computational approaches to integrate vast amounts of data in a modeling framework. Researchers can now identify genes controlling important traits to target biofuel and bioproduct production. 

Critical plant gene

Critical plant gene takes unexpected detour that could boost biofuel yields

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For decades, biologists have believed a key enzyme in plants had one function—produce amino acids, which are vital to plant survival and also essential to human diets.

But for Wellington Muchero, Meng Xie and their colleagues, this enzyme does more than advertised. They had run a series of experiments on poplar plants that consistently revealed mutations in a structure of the life-sustaining enzyme that was not previously known to exist.

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Tamara Rogers
Tamara Rogers