The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, recently announced plans to sequence the genome of the first tree — Populus. As such, plant biologists will soon have access to a tremendous genetic resource. However, while the genome is being sequenced, many tasks need to be accomplished to ensure that the scientific community is able to take full advantage of this resource.
The purpose of the International Populus Genome Consortium (IPGC) is to help develop and guide post-sequence activities in poplar. Foremost among the list of goals highlighted for the consortium will be the development of a comprehensive Populus science plan. The long-term goals of the science plan, although not yet agreed upon, are broadly to:
- examine the suite of genetic resources in Populus that are currently available to the scientific community,
- integrate genomics with physiology and ecology in an effort to understand and manipulate tree growth, development, and function and
- develop the ability to attain predictive understanding of tree growth, development, and complex function.
The science plan will ultimately include a far-reaching summary of the applications and opportunities associated with the arrival of the Populus genome sequence. These applications will include particular emphasis on issues related to overall tree growth and performance in the context of general poplar culture, basic science investigations, bio-based products and energy, carbon sequestration, and forest ecosystem response to changes in physical and chemical climate.
The IPGC web site will serve as a mechanism for:
- open, accessible registration/participation in the consortium,
- the dissemination of general information and scientific updates, on sequencing the poplar gneome, and other noteworthy national and international research activities, and ultimately
- input to and view/review of the Populus science plan.