Gene manipulation boosts tree growth rate and size

Trees may be a renewable resource, but the rate of this renewal may not meet the increasing demand for plant biomass. But now researchers at the University of Manchester have potentially found a way to boost tree stocks by using gene manipulation to increase the size and growth rate of trees.

Led by Professor Simon Turner, researchers successfully modified two genes in poplar trees, called PXY and CLE, which are responsible for the rate of cell division in tree trunks. While poplar trees are already fast growing, causing the genes to overexpress resulted in the trees growing twice as fast as normal, while also ending up taller, wider and with more leaves. 

"Although, this needs be tested in the field, this discovery paves the way for generating trees that grow more quickly. This will contribute to meeting the needs for increased plant biomass as a renewable source of biofuels, chemicals and materials while minimising further CO2 release into the atmosphere," says Professor Turner.

Click here for source (Gizmag)

Photo: University of Manchester