IBBR to Investigate How to Protect Poplar from Disease
(University of Maryland IBBR/Ethanol Producer Magazine) The Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research has been awarded a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to elucidate the mechanism of rust pathogenesis in poplar in an effort to engineer durable resistance for this important, second generation biofuel crop.
The research is supported by the DOE’s Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program. Initial seed funding was also provided by the University Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State.
The aim of the three-year project is to investigate the molecular basis for the virulence of leaf rust and other diseases toward Populus species in order to address the challenge of engineering resistance against the pathogens.
Recent developments in bio-renewable energies including growth of poplar tree farms, more efficient extraction of bioenergy on a commercial scale, and year-round harvesting, have renewed interest in this woody crop. Poplars are more desirable for biofuels than many other crops because of their rapid growth, ability to quickly produce a significant amount of plant biomass, and have high cellulose and low lignin contents. The high cellulose content provides the carbohydrates necessary to produce bioenergy and the low lignin content makes it easier to extract carbohydrates from the biomass for conversion into liquid transportation fuels. READ MORE