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Virginia Tech Gets $1.5M Tree Genomics Grant

By a GenomeWeb Staff Reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Virginia Polytechnic and State University has netted a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study at the genomic level how tree populations may adapt to climate change, Virginia Tech said yesterday.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program grant to Virginia Tech's Jason Holliday, an assistant professor of forest genetics and biotechnology, will fund genomics research focused on the black cottonwood tree, which is distributed throughout the western US, and it will be used to inform research into the trembling aspen and eastern cottonwood trees.

All of these trees could be used as feedstocks for producing ethanol from woody biomass.

The research will use genomic analysis to provide knowledge about practical breeding applications and to optimize poplar planting stock in a changing climate.

"Although forest tree populations are well adapted to their local environments at present, climate change is substantially altering adaptive landscapes and is expected to lead to widespread maladaptation of tree populations to their seasonal temperature regimes," Holliday said in a statement.

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