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:

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: