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Research

The Schatz Center engages in research and training in forest genetics related projects in the areas of Genomics, Conservation Genetics, and Biotechnology. The Schatz Center's state-of-the-art facilities provide the capacity for high throughput DNA and RNA sequencing, genotyping, plant tissue culture, and fluorescence microscopy.

Genomics.  We study the organization of genes and genomes in trees through research on genetic linkage mapping, genome sequencing and molecular cytogenetics.  We identify genes, DNA markers and quantitative trait loci that govern growth, stress resistance, and wood quality in important forest trees.  Our results are applied in collaboration with tree breeders, for improvement of hardwood species such as chestnuts, oaks, black cherry, poplar, and tulip-poplar.

Conservation genetics.  Genetic diversity is the foundation for biodiversity.  We use DNA markers in the nuclear, mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes to study genetic diversity in forest trees and associated wildlife. We wish to better understand and conserve the various genetic mechanisms that species have evolved to adapt to their specific natural surroundings.

Environmental tree biotechnology.  We are conducting research on the genetic regulation of lignin biosynthesis and the response of trees to environmental stresses.  This may lead to improved genotypes of trees for bioenergy, for environmentally friendly pulp and paper production, for adaptation to global climate change, and for use in remediation of contaminated soils.

Current projects include a broad range of research from sequencing the chestnut genome to field trials of biomass energy tree crops. These projects are externally funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, The Forest Health Initiative, the US Forest Service and the Northeast Sun Grant Initiative.