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Title: Elucidating the genetic basis of biomass yield, leaf development and drought tolerance traits in Populus nigra
Author: Allwright, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 6065
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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In the face of global climate change and the need to urgently transition from fossil fuels to a low carbon economy, bioenergy derived from plant biomass has the potential to provide a diverse range of renewable and sustainable solid and liquid fuels. Second generation (2G) lignocellulosics are dedicated bioenergy crops; ideally cultivated on marginal lands with minimal agricultural inputs or competition with food production. The model tree poplar is a fast growing, genetically diverse and widespread hardwood and has great potential for commercial development as a feedstock for cellulosic biorefineries. At this time however, lignocellulosics such as poplar have not received the same research and breeding effort as many food crops. Chapter 2 of this work demonstrates that a substantial yield gap exists for 2G bioenergy crops, which will hamper commercialisation. This yield gap may be closed through sustainable intensification and advanced, molecular breeding techniques offer the potential to increase the efficiency and timeliness of this improvement process. These advanced breeding techniques require an understanding of the genetic basis of traits of interest. To this end Chapters 3 and 4 are centred on a natural, wide population of Populus nigra Linnaeus (black poplar) genotypes, drawn from across the western European range of this species. This highly diverse population has been cultivated under short rotation coppice (SRC) in two field trials in the UK and Italy and phenotyped for important bioenergy traits related to biomass yield, wood quality, leaf development and drought tolerance. The population has also been genotyped; firstly using an Illumina 12K BeadChip array and secondly with targeted, sequence capture genotyping by sequencing (GBS) of the annotated gene space. These single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been employed to analyse the population genetic structure of European P. nigra and in genome wide association genetics; identifying trait-marker associations and candidate genes for quantified phenotypes. These data will be valuable for the molecular breeding and commercialisation of bioenergy poplar.
Supervisor: Taylor, Gail Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available