Search
Browse by Subject
Contact Information

Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs /Science Theme / Sustaining Forests / Methods to Conserve and Enhance Forest Resources / Timber Productivity and Wood Quality /Breeding and Selecting Poplar for Biofuels, Bioenergy, and Bioproducts
Sustaining Forests

Breeding and Selecting Poplar for Biofuels, Bioenergy, and Bioproducts

[photo:] Seed capsules on a female poplar catkin.Research Issue

Hybridization of poplars occurs naturally among certain taxonomic sections, as well as from planned breeding efforts. Given that most of the variability of poplars is at the species level, both intra- and inter-specific hybridization have been vital tools for producing progeny that outperform either or both parents for biologically and economically important traits. It is important to refine breeding, testing, and selection protocols so that new, superior poplar genotypes can replace their underperforming counterparts. These older genotypes have a long history in research and production trials but are no longer suited to the productivity and wood quality standards needed for increasing biofuels, bioenergy, and bioproducts production.

Our Research

We have ongoing projects involving pollen viability testing, comparison of traditional and non-traditional grafting methods, species incompatibility based on reciprocal crossing matrices, and inbreeding depression as a result of crossing siblings. Our efforts are focused on detailed quantitative genetic and physiological analyses, as well as the development of practical tree breeding techniques.

Expected Outcomes

Our overall objective is to acquire meaningful data for selection and to develop future breeding and testing protocols. Our collective expected outcome is to refine such methodologies to increase the efficiency and reliability of breeding and selection of superior genotypes for multiple end uses.

Research Results

Mahama, A.A.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2011. Differential interspecific incompatibility among Populus hybrids in sections Aigeiros Duby and Tacamahaca Spach. The Forestry Chronicle 87:790-796.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, J.A.; McMahon, B.G.; Berguson, W.E.; Stanosz, G.R. 2009. Biomass and genotype × environment interactions of Populus energy crops in the Midwestern United States. BioEnergy Research 2:106-122.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, J.A.; Berguson, W.E.; McMahon, B.G.; Stanosz, G.R. 2008. Biomass potential of Populus in the Midwestern United States. In: Biofuels, bioenergy, and bioproducts from sustainable agricultural and forest crops: proceedings of the Short Rotation Crops International Conference; August 18-22, 2008; Bloomington, MN. Gen Tech Report NRS-P-31. Newtown Square, PA; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. p 72.

Mahama, A.A.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B. 2007. Breeding success and range of incompatibility among Populus hybrids in sections Aigeiros Duby and Tacamahaca Spach. In: 2007 Annual Meeting of the Poplar Council of Canada: Poplar culture: a collaborative effort from clone to mill; September 16-21, 2007; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. p 23.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Zalesny, J.A.; Bauer, E.O. 2007. Ecological sustainability of alternative biomass feedstock production for environmental benefits and bioenergy. In: Fourth International Phytotechnologies Conference; September 24-26, 2007; Denver, CO. p 62.

Hall, R.; Mahama, A.; Ruigu, S.; Zalesny, R. 2006. Matings between relatives to support clonal improvement and gene mapping. In: Fourth International Poplar Symposium of the Nanjing Forestry University and the International Union of Forest Research Organisation’s Poplar and Willow Genetics Working Unit 2.08.04: Meeting the needs of a growing world through poplar and willow science: combining traditional and novel approaches in the genomic era; June 5-9, 2006; Nanjing, China. p 3.

Mahama, A.A.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B. 2006. Differential interspecific incompatibility in Populus breeding. In: Seventh Biennial Conference of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group: Short rotation woody crop production systems for wood products, bioenergy and environmental services; September 25-28, 2006; Pasco, WA. p 23.

Mahama, A.A.; Sparks, B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B. 2006. Successful grafting in poplar species (Populus spp.) breeding. In: Seventh Biennial Conference of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group: Short rotation woody crop production systems for wood products, bioenergy and environmental services; September 25-28, 2006; Pasco, WA. p 22.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Riemenschneider, D.E.; Hall, R.B. 2002. Evaluating hybrid poplar rooting. II. Backcross breeding method exhibits exceptional promise. In: Fourth Biennial Meeting of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group; September 14-17, 2002; Alexandria, MN. 

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Ronald S. Zalesny Jr., US Forest Service Northern Research Station- Team Leader, Research Plant Geneticist
  • Richard B. Hall, Iowa State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Ames, IA

Research Partner

  • A. Assibi Mahama, formerly of Iowa State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Ames, IA

Last Modified: 03/22/2012

Featured Products

Mahama, A.A.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2011. Differential interspecific incompatibility among Populus hybrids in sections Aigeiros Duby and Tacamahaca Spach. The Forestry Chronicle 87:790-796.

Related IAES Research