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Reverse genetic approaches for improved crops

The overall objective of here is to identify and assess candidate genes that can be used to improve drought tolerance poplar and miscanthus.  We are using three approaches for the selection of candidate genes.  First, the RNA sequencing data (RNA seq.) generated from the analysis of drought-tolerant lines of poplar and miscanthus is used to identify modular transcriptional networks relevant to the selection of prime candidate regulatory genes for drought response.  In the second approach we are using prior knowledge of drought response in model species Arabidopsis and rice to select candidate genes, especially those involved in ABA signalling.  In the third approach, we will interrogate available transcriptomic data gained from the wide association population where native P. nigra trees known to differ in drought tolerance were compared.  These three approaches finally enable us to select the top 30 candidate genes for poplar and up to 10 genes for miscanthus.

The expression of the target genes will be modulated in transgenic poplar in order to analyse the modified lines for potential improvement of drought response, and simultaneously ensure that improved drought response does not have negative impact on growth performance and wood properties.