Clemson University

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Haiying Liang

Dr. Liang’s research laboratory is focused on the genomics and biotechnology of hardwood species. Her team is constructing the framework genetic linkage map for tulip poplar, as well as performing stress treatments on various hardwood species for transcriptome sequencing. This NSF grant has helped trained one graduate student, one postdoctoral fellow, and a technician, and provided research opportunities to eight undergraduate and one high student. Lately Dr. Chin-Chih Chen has joined the team.

Michigan Technological University

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Oliver Gailing

Dr. Gailing works in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and is a member of the Biotech Research Center (37 faculty, 90 graduate students) which fosters interdisciplinary research at MTU. His primary interests are in ecological genetics and genomics, population genetics of forest trees, and the genetic mapping of characters involved in the adaptation to varying environmental conditions. He was involved in comparative genetic mapping projects in the Fagaceae using EST-SSR markers within the European genomic project EVOLTREE (Evolution of trees as drivers of terrestrial biodiversity). For this project, the OG lab is developing the genetic linkage maps in Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust) and is contributing to the development of the high density genetic linkage map in Quercus rubra (Northern red oak).

There will be one PhD student funded by the project (to be hired in fall 2011) working on genetic mapping in G. triacanthos and Q. rubra. Jessica Goodin, a MS student, is currently developing genetic markers for the identification of full-sib mapping pedigrees in honeylocust.

Pennsylvania State University

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. John Carlson

Professor John E. Carlson is Director of The Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics in The School of Forest Resources at Pennsylvania State University, and Principal Investigator for our project on Hardwood Genomics Resources. The Schatz Center was established in 2001 by an endowment from alumnus Dr. Louis W. Schatz to support research in biotechnology and molecular genetics with forest trees. The excellent facilities and post-doctoral fellows supported by the Schatz Center have provided a foundation for this project.

The hardwood forest genetics group of Scott Schlarbaum, Mark Coggeshall, Jeanne Romero-Severson and John Carlson coalesced about 10 years ago around a shared vision of bringing together traditional and molecular genetics to address sustainability of eastern hardwoods. Recently, the group has expanded to include Drs. Shumaker, Gailing, and Liang who represent the important next generation of geneticists who will sustain research on these important tree species. The Comparative genomics of environmental stress responses in North American hardwoods project represents a major step forward for this collaboration, and for the forest tree research community. We look forward to presenting many exciting advances in hardwood genomics resources in this website in the months and years ahead.

University of Missouri

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Mark Coggeshall

The University of Missouri (MU) initiated an applied tree breeding program for black walnut in 1998 which is focused on the improvement of the species for a number of commercially important nut and timber traits. Recently, this has expanded to include the selection of elite timber types to ultimately serve as sources of improved tree seeds for reforestation purposes. Nut improvement programs have also been developed for both pecan (Carya illinoensis) and Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima). All nut research is hosted within the MU Center for Agroforestry. In addition to promoting these specialty nut crops as a new revenue opportunity for small family farmers in Missouri, the Coggeshall research program has developed which focus on establishing new riparian buffer and wildlife enhancement plantings using specific sources of a number of oak species.

For this hardwood genomics project, the Coggeshall lab is focusing on the propagation, hosting and subsequent phenotypic characterization of mapping populations for black walnut (Juglans nigra) (Fagales), green ash, (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) (Lamiales), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) (Cornales), sugar maple (Acer saccharum) (Sapindales), and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) (Saxifragales).

University of Notre Dame

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Jeanne Romero-Severson

Dr. Jeanne Romero-Severson is a quantitative geneticist who focuses on the genetic basis of evolutionary change in natural populations, the impact of severe disturbance on population dynamics in forest trees, and the genetic basis for tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress in forest trees and insect vectors of human disease. Dr. Romero-Severson's lab website, Forest Conservation and Tree Genetics Program, has more information and photos of ongoing tree research.

Dr. Romero-Severson is overseeing the genetic mapping projects for this proposal. The Gailling lab (Michigan Tech) and the Romero-Severson program are generating a densely populated genetic map for northern red oak (Quercus rubra L), a fine hardwood of major economic and ecological importance in the upland forests of the Eastern United States. The JRS lab will also generate a densely populated map for black walnut (Juglans nigra L.), another fine hardwood of major economic and ecological importance in the bottomland forests of Eastern Northern America. Both species are acutely threatened by the accidental importation of destructive pests and deadly diseases.

University of Tennessee

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Scott Schlarbaum

Dr. Scott Schlarbaum is the current Project Leader for The University of Tennessee’s Tree Improvement Program (UT-TIP). UT-TIP was founded in 1959 and is one of the oldest university-based tree breeding and testing programs in the United States. The program is directed toward improving and protecting the forest resource in Tennessee, while making contributions to collegiate education and advances in the forestry profession and science in general.

Improvement of hardwood species have always been a component of the UT-TIP, as has been addressing exotic forest pathogens through resistance breeding. Professor Eyvind Thor , the first UT-TIP leader, began cross-pollinations of surviving American chestnut, attempting to build resistance. Response to exotic pests continues today with extensive research on restoring butternut and other decimated species to eastern forests. Other UT-TIP priorities are: developing seed orchards of various hardwood species to provided the Tennessee State Nursery with locally adapted, genetically improved seed, establishing precision forestry experiments, and conservation of Tennessee’s plant genetic resources.

Within the Hardwood Genomics Project, UT-TIP is developing and maintaining molecular mapping populations for northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.), honeylocust (Gledisia triacanthos), and tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) and performing outreach activities with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian’s K- 12 students.

University of Tennessee

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Meg Staton

Meg Staton is head of bioinformatics for the project. Her projects include:

  • assembly, annotation and differential expression studies from the transcriptome data in collaboration
  • processing genotyping by sequencing data
  • development of a pipeline to extract SSR candidate loci from low coverage whole genome sequence data
  • assembly and annotation of chloroplast genomes from low coverage whole genome sequence data
  • developing and maintaining the project website

She recently moved from Clemson University to the University of Tennessee to the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

University of West Alabama (Shumaker)

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Ketia Shumaker

The University of West Alabama (UWA), a minority-serving undergraduate institution in Livingston, AL., is playing a central role in the education and outreach program for the comparative hardwood genomics project. UWA minority faculty member Dr. Ketia Shumaker, past participant in a collaborative NSF Plant Genome supplemental grant, will annually accompany two undergraduate students for a two-month summer training program at Penn State. Dr. Shumaker and the students will receive an intensive week-long workshop in molecular biology techniques, followed by two months of research on genomics or bioinformatics aspects of the hardwood project. Learn more about this outreach program and view results produced by students. The students will present their findings in the undergraduate summer research day at PSU and at the annual meetings of the American Society for Plant Biology. Dr. Shumaker previously participated in the supplemental grant to the NSF sponsored project “Functional Genomics of Flowering in the Woody Perennial Populus”.

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