Differential Detection of Genetic Loci Underlying Stem and Root Lignin Content in Populus

Tongming Yin, Xinye Zhang, Lee Gunter, Ranjan Priya, Robert Sykes, Mark Davis, Stan D. Wullschleger, Gerald A. Tuskan

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19 Scopus Citations


In this study, we established a comprehensive genetic map with a large number of progeny from a three-generation hybrid Populus intercross, and phenotyped the lignin content, S/G ratio and 28 cell wall subcomponents both in stems and roots for the mapping individuals. Phenotypic analysis revealed that lignin content and syringyl-to-guaiacyl (S/G) ratio using pyrolysis molecular beam mass spectroscopy (pyMBMS) varied among mapping individuals. Phenotypic analysis revealed that stem lignin content is significantly higher than that in root and the quantified traits can be classified into four distinct groups, with strong correlations observed among components within organs. Altogether, 179 coordinating QTLs were detected, and they were co-localized into 49 genetic loci, 27 of which appear to be pleiotropic. Many of the detected genetic loci were detected differentially in stem and root. This is the first report of separate genetic loci controlling cell wall phenotypes above and below ground. These results suggest that it may be possible to modify lignin content and composition via breed and/or engineer as a means of simultaneously improving Populus for cellulosic ethanol production and carbon sequestration.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere14021
Number of pages7
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-50255


  • carbon sequestration
  • cellulosic ethanol production
  • lignin content
  • separate genetic loci


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