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The Hardwood Genomics Project

Schatz Center Director John Carlson is Principle Investigator for the Hardwood Genomics Project, which is in its second year of a four year project supported by a $3.7M grant from the National Science Foundation's Plant Genome Research Program ( http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5338&org=BIO ).  This multi-disciplinary collaboration of scientists at seven universities ( http://www.hardwoodgenomics.org/participants) is creating genomic resources for eight economically and phylogenetically important North American hardwood species - Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the Magnoliales order; Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) in Proteales; Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) in the Fabales; Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) in the Sapindales; Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvannica) in the Lamiales; and Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) in the Fagales ( http://www.hardwoodgenomics.org/organisms).  The project is producing sequence databases for expressed genes, genetic markers, genetic linkage maps, long term reference populations, and several BAC libraries.   As the project's complete name, the “Comparative genomics of environmental stress responses in North American hardwoods” implies, these genomic and biological resources are targeting the discovery and conservation of genes in hardwood trees for adaptation and responses to environmental stresses such as drought, heat, insect pests and disease.  These resources are being released at the project website ( www.hardwoodgenomics.org).  The project also features innovative outreach and educational activities ( http://www.hardwoodgenomics.org/outreach/) including a summer undergraduate research program for minority students and the development of a K-12 natural resources curriculum for the Eastern Band of Cherokees' Ravensford School, located in the Qualla Boundary, North Carolina that will integrate molecular genetics and forest ecology with Cherokee culture.