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Sustaining Forests

Adventitious Rooting and Early Establishment of Poplar Energy Crops

Research Issue

[photo:] Adventitious roots from a poplar cutting after two weeks of growth.As the first biological requirement of successful tree growth and establishment, rooting ability is critical to the economic and biological viability of Populus plantations used for energy, fiber, and environmental benefits. Gaining knowledge about the genetics and genotype × environment interactions affecting adventitious rooting is important for energy crop production. First, rapid and extensive rooting reduces establishment costs by permitting the use of unrooted cuttings as commercial stock rather than rooted cuttings. Second, assuming concomitant and well-balanced shoot development, rapid and extensive rooting promotes early growth, reducing vegetation management costs and the time period to crown closure. Third, rapid and extensive rooting that is stable in the face of varying environmental conditions can increase the period of time during which successful planting can occur, increasing operational flexibility.  

Our Research

We test genetic and external factors (e.g., soil temperature, soil moisture, parental shoot position, bud removal, time of shoot harvest) that promote or constrain rooting ability, with special emphasis on how specific genotypes perform with varying environmental conditions and propagule processing treatments. We also develop quantitative genetic methodologies and guidelines that continue to support the incorporation of rooting ability as a selection criterion in the formulation of strategic (selection of parental species) or operational (selection within specified genomic groups) breeding plans, regardless of where the plantations are grown.

Expected Outcomes

Researchers will be able to better understand rooting of Populus energy crops and to use these data to make decisions for further testing and deployment across regional scales. This information helps growers increase the success of plantation establishment, which may help augment supplies of native aspen in the North Central region and ultimately reduce pressure on native forests.

Research Results

Headlee, W.L.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2013. Establishment of alleycropped hybrid aspen “Crandon” in central Iowa, USA: effects of topographic position and fertilizer rate on aboveground biomass production and allocation. Sustainability 5:2874-2886.

Headlee, W.L.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B. 2012. Effects of topographic position and fertilizer rate on the early growth of hybrid aspen ‘Crandon’ alleycropped with winter triticale near Ames, IA (years 1-3). In: 9th Biennial Conference of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Group; November 5-8, 2012; Oak Ridge, TN, USA. p 15.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Wiese, A.H. 2011. Date of shoot collection, genotype, and original shoot position affect growth and biomass of Populus energy crops during field establishment. In: Annual General Meetings of the Poplar Council of Canada, International Poplar Commission (FAO) – Environmental Applications Working Party, and the Poplar Council of the United States: Poplars and Willows on the Prairies – Traditional Practices Meet Innovative Applications; September 18-24, 2011; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Zalesny, J.A. 2011. Clonal variation in lateral and basal rooting of Populus irrigated with landfill leachate. Silvae Genetica 60:35-44.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Zalesny, J.A. 2009. Selecting Populus with different adventitious root types for environmental benefits, fiber, and energy. In: Adventitious Root Formation of Forest Trees and Horticultural Plants – From Genes to Applications. K. Niemi and C. Scagel, eds. Chapter 18. Research Signpost. pp. 359-384.

Kodrzycki, R.J.; Michaels, R.B.; Friend, A.L.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Mawata, C.P.; McDonald, D.W. 2008. Non-destructive digital imaging in poplar allows detailed analysis of adventitious rooting dynamics. In: 5th International Symposium on Adventitious Root Formation: From Cell Fate Flexibility to Root Meristem Determination and Biomass Formation; June 16-20, 2008; Madrid, Spain. pp 33-34.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Zalesny, J.A. 2008. Variation in lateral and basal adventitious rooting of Populus irrigated with landfill leachate: selection of favorable genotypes for environmental benefits. 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 73.

Zalesny, J.A.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Coyle, D.R.; Hall, R.B.; Bauer, E.O. 2008. Populus root system morphology during phytoremediation of landfill leachate. 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 70.

Friend, A.L.; Lilleskov, E.A.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Michaels, R.; McDonald, D.W. 2007. Belowground management of trees: novel perspectives on imaging. HortScience 42(4):799.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Friend, A.L.; Kodrzycki, B.; McDonald, D.W.; Michaels, R.; Wiese, A.H.; Powers, J.W. 2007. Using low energy x-ray radiography to evaluate root initiation and growth of Populus. 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 73.

Wiese, A.H.; Zalesny, J.A.; Donner, D.M.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2006. Bud removal affects shoot, root, and callus development of hardwood Populus cuttings. Silvae Genetica 55:141-148.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2006. Genetic and environmental factors affecting early rooting of six Populus genomic groups: implications for tree improvement. 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 53.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Wiese, A.H. 2006. Date of shoot collection, genotype, and original shoot position affect early rooting of dormant hardwood cuttings of Populus. Silvae Genetica 55:169-182.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B.; Bauer, E.O.; Riemenschneider, D.E. 2005. Soil temperature and precipitation affect the rooting ability of dormant hardwood cuttings of Populus. Silvae Genetica 54:47-58.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Riemenschneider, D.E.; Hall, R.B. 2005. Early rooting of dormant hardwood cuttings of Populus: analysis of quantitative genetics and genotype × environment interactions. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 35:918-929.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Bauer, E.O.; Riemenschneider, D.E. 2004. Use of belowground growing degree days to predict rooting of dormant hardwood cuttings of Populus. Silvae Genetica 53:154-160.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Hall, R.B.; Bauer, E.O.; Riemenschneider, D.E. 2003. Shoot position affects root initiation and growth of dormant unrooted cuttings of Populus. Silvae Genetica 52:273-279.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Riemenschneider, D.E.; Hall, R.B. 2002. Evaluating hybrid poplar rooting. I. Genotype × environment interactions in three contrasting sites. In: Fourth Biennial Meeting of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group; September 14-17, 2002; Alexandria, MN.

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.

Zalesny, R.S., Jr.; Riemenschneider, D.E.; Bauer, E.O. 2000. Analysis of genetic and environmental effects on hybrid poplar rooting in central and northern Minnesota, USA. In: 21st Session of the International Poplar Commission (IPC 2000): poplar and willow culture: meeting the needs of society and the environment; September 24-28, 2000; Vancouver, WA. Gen Tech Report NC-215. St. Paul, MN; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station. 220 p.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Ronald S. Zalesny Jr., US Forest Service Northern Research Station- Team Leader, Research Plant Geneticist

Research Partners

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

Last Modified: October 4, 2016