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Crop Biotech Update

ORNL Researchers Release Largest Poplar SNP Dataset

January 18, 2017

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have recently released the largest-ever single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset of genetic variations in poplar trees. It contains information useful to plant scientists, and researchers in the fields of biofuels, materials science, and secondary plant metabolism.

The released dataset consists of more than 28 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) derived from approximately 900 resequenced poplar genotypes. Each SNP represents a variation in a single DNA nucleotide and can act as a biological marker, helping scientists locate genes associated with certain characteristics.

BESC scientists will also be using the dataset to identify the molecular mechanisms controlling deposition of lignin in plant structures. Lignin, the polymer that strengthens plant cell walls, acts as a barrier to accessing cellulose and thereby preventing cellulose breakdown into simple sugars for fermentation.

ORNL researchers plan to use the Genome-Wide Association (GWAS) data in research areas of  biofuel production, carbon fiber for lightweight vehicles, alternatives to conventional plastics, insulation materials as well as in the medical field.

The researchers still plan to expand the dataset and collaborate with other groups to collect and analyze additional phenotypes.

For more on the story, read the article in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory website.