How to make trees grow bigger and quicker
Scientists have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with...
Scientists have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change.
In the study, the team successfully manipulated two genes in poplar trees in order to make them grow larger and more quickly than usual.
"The rate at which trees grow is determined by the rate of cell division in the stem. We have identified two genes that are able to drive cell division in the stem and so override the normal growth pattern," said lead researcher professor Simon Turner from the University of Manchester.
"This discovery 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," Turner explained.
The genes, called PXY and CLE, control the growth of a tree trunk.
When over expressed, making them more active than in their normal state, the trees grew twice as fast as normal and were taller, wider and had more leaves.
Most plants, including crops, respond to adverse environmental conditions with lower growth rates that result in lower yields.
"Our work offers the possibility we may be able to maintain a fast growth rate even in the face of adverse and changeable environmental conditions that all plants are likely to be faced with," Turner added.
"This is something that needs to be tested in the field, but offers a potential way forward for what is one of the most pressing challenges of the day," he concluded.
The team now plans to work with a forest products company to test their findings in the field.
The study was published in Current Biology.