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Forest Disturbance Processes

Phyto-Recurrent Selection: A Method for Selecting Genotypes for Phytotechnologiest

Research Issue

[photo:] Eastern cottonwood grown on TCE- and PCE-contaminated soils. 
(34.5 cm DBH at 11 years) - photo by Ron Zalesny, USFS NRS
A common protocol for phytotechnologies using poplars, willows, and other short rotation woody crops (SRWCs) has been to utilize a limited number of readily-available genotypes with decades of deployment in other applications, such as fiber or windbreaks. However, it is possible to increase phytoremediation success with proper genotypic screening and selection, followed by the field establishment of clones that exhibited favorable potential for clean-up of specific contaminants. While such efforts are limited for environmental remediation, centuries of plant selection success in agronomy, horticulture, and forestry validate the need for similar approaches in phytotechnologies. 

Our Research

Early phytotechnologies research at our Institute involved testing the performance and phytoremediation capabilities of SRWCs in greenhouses and growth chambers, then progressed to field tests in tanks with engineered soil layers and ultimately field-scale plantations. Current research involves a combination of greenhouse and field tests. Adopting crop and tree breeding strategies used in the plant sciences, we developed and continue to refine phyto-recurrent selection to choose superior-performing genotypes for specific remediation efforts. Our research involves using multiple testing cycles to evaluate, identify, and select favorable clones based on the response of genotypes to variable leachate chemistries and site conditions. Early cycles are relatively short and data collected are easy to acquire (typically done in the greenhouse or growth chamber), while later cycles require more time and resources to increase knowledge of genotypes advancing (typically done in the field). Less clones are tested as the complexity of the data increases, and multiple-trait selection strategies are used to evaluate the combination of complex phenotypic expressions regulated by quantitative traits. We are also developing databases with information matching: 1) genus (i.e., poplar or willow), species, and/or clone, 2) specific contaminants, and 3) leaf, woody (stem + branch), and root tissues to optimize remediation effectiveness.

Expected Outcomes

The ultimate goal is to deploy a combination of genotypes with improved phytoremediation potential over the original set of clones, as well as adequate genetic variation to guard against insect/disease outbreaks, changes in soil conditions (especially those induced by the contaminants), and unfavorable genotype × environment interactions. The methodology and its associated databases will also foster greater remediation success for resource managers and researchers, offering more opportunities for the deployment of phytotechnologies, regardless of contaminant or geographic region.

Research Results

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Headlee, W.L. 2014. Using environmental remediation to enhance afforestation and reforestation. In: 3rd Science in the Northwoods Conference; October 15-17, 2014; Boulder Junction, WI.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Headlee, W.L.; Page-Dumroese, D.S. 2014. Application of phyto-recurrent selection: poplars grown in biochar-amended soils. In: International Poplar Symposium VI; July 20-23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Hallett, R.A.; Falxa-Raymond, N.; Wiese, A.H.; Birr, B.A. 2014. Propagating native Salicaceae for afforestation and restoration in New York City’s five boroughs. Native Plants Journal 15:29-41.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Headlee, W.L.; Gopalakrishnan, G.; Hall, R.B.; Hazel, D.W.; Isebrands, J.G.; Negri, M.C.; Guthrie-Nichols, E.; Rockwood, D.L. 2014. Ecosystem services of poplar at long-term phytoremediation sites in the Midwest and Southeast, United States. In: International Poplar Symposium VI; July 20-23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr. 2013. A review of ecosystem services associated with using Populus for phytotechnologies. In: 10th International Phytotechnologies Conference; October 1-4, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Headlee, W.L.; Page-Dumroese, D.S. 2013. Using phyto-recurrent selection to identify favorable Populus genotypes grown in biochar-amended soils. In: 10th International Phytotechnologies Conference; October 1-4, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Headlee, W.L.; Gopalakrishnan, G.; Hall, R.B.; Hazel, D.W.; Isebrands, J.G.; Negri, M.C.; Guthrie-Nichols, E.; Rockwood, D.L. 2013. Growth, biomass productivity, and aboveground carbon storage of poplar at long-term phytotechnology installations. In: 10th International Phytotechnologies Conference; October 1-4, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr. 2012. A review of North American Populus phytotechnologies research published from 1989 to 2011. In: 9th Conference of the International Phytotechnology Society: Phytotechnologies – Plant-based Strategies to Clean Water, Soil, Air and Provide Ecosystem Services; September 11-14, 2012; Hasselt, University, Diepenbeek, Belgium.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr. 2012. Using phytotechnologies to improve ecosystem services in urban areas. In: 2012 Annual Conference of the American Society of Consulting Arborists; November 28-December 1, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Zalesny, J.A.; Bauer, E.O. 2011. Advances in phyto-recurrent selection during phytotechnologies. In: 8th Conference of the International Phytotechnology Society: Putting Plants to Work Where We Live, Labor, Breathe, and Play; September 13-16, 2011; Portland, OR.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Zalesny, J.A. 2010. Phyto-recurrent selection: a method for selecting Populus and Salix genotypes for environmental applications. In: International Poplar Commission Environmental Applications of Poplar and Willow Working Party Workshop; September 17-18, 2010; Rome, Italy.

Zalesny, J.A.; Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Wiese, A.H.; Hall, R.B. 2007. Choosing tree genotypes for phytoremediation of landfill leachate using phyto-recurrent selection. International Journal of Phytoremediation 9:513-530.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Bauer, E.O. 2007. Selecting and utilizing Populus and Salix for landfill covers: implications for leachate irrigation. International Journal of Phytoremediation 9:497-511.

Zalesny, J.A.; Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Wiese, A.H.; Hall, R.B. 2006. Using Phyto-recurrent selection to choose Populus genotypes for phytoremediation of landfill leachate. 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 51.

Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Bauer, E.O. 2006. Phyto-recurrent selection: a tree improvement strategy for selecting genotypes used in phytoremediation. 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 54.

 

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Ronald S. Zalesny Jr., US Forest Service Northern Research Station- Team Leader, Research Plant Geneticist
  • Jill A. Zalesny, US Forest Service Northern Research Station- Research Volunteer (Plant Physiologist)
  • Edmund O. Bauer, US Forest Service Northern Research Station- Technician Emeritus

Research Partners

  • Richard B. Hall, Iowa State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Ames, IA
  • David R. Coyle, University of Georgia, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Athens, GA
  • Adam H. Wiese, US Forest Service Northern Research Station- Forestry Technician

Last Modified: December 7, 2015