First Tree Genome Sequenced
The genome of Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa, commonly known as the black cottonwood, a species of Poplar tree distributed from the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska to Baja, California, east to Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Alberta, will be the first tree genome ever sequenced. The Populus Genome Scientific Steering committee and the BER Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in Walnut Creek, California, are leading the sequencing of this Poplar species. This international research project has representatives from the University of Washington, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, the British Columbia Genome Sequence Center, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the National Center for Genome Research, the JGI, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other institutions. Dr. Toby Bradshaw (chair of the Science Steering Committee) from the University of Washington and Dr. Jerry Tuskan from Oak Ridge National Laboratory are the principal scientists from the Populus genetics and molecular biology scientific communities who are providing genetic material and technical coordination of the sequencing effort and working with the JGI in California. Scientists working on tree genetics and tree productivity and product utilization are wildly enthusiastic about the sequencing of this tree species because it represents an important first step in understanding the genome of a common, commercially important tree species. Scientific significance and industrial interest in the Poplar sequencing project are described in a press release that appears in the Science Daily web site and the project is also reported in other science media.