CRISPRing trees for a climate-friendly economy

poplar tree
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Researchers led by prof. Wout Boerjan (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology) have discovered a way to stably finetune the amount of lignin in poplar by applying CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Lignin is one of the main structural substances in plants and it makes processing wood into, for example, paper difficult. This study is an important breakthrough in the development of wood resources for the production of paper with a lower carbon footprint, biofuels, and other bio-based materials. Their work, in collaboration with VIVES University College (Roeselare, Belgium) and University of Wisconsin (U.S.) appears in Nature Communications.


Today’s fossil-based economy results in a net increase of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere and is a major cause of global climate change. To counter this, a shift toward a circular and bio-based economy is essential. Woody biomass can play a crucial role in such a bio-based economy by

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Pine needles evolved to help trees cope with rainfall

Sept. 29 (UPI) — The needles of longleaf pine trees evolved to effectively shed water, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, ensuring rain moistens the soil instead of clogging leaf pores.

“Our initial inspiration for this project was [to study] raindrop impact on pine trees,” Andrew Dickerson, professor of engineering at University of Central Florida, told UPI in an email.

Dickerson and his research partners wanted to find whether or not rainfall has influenced the material properties of pine needles.

“We began impact drops onto cantilevered needles, but quickly realized the physics was very complicated and that the simpler problem of drop impact onto fixed, non-circular fibers had not yet been tackled,” Dickerson said.

To tackle it, researchers set up high-speed cameras to capture high-resolution, slow-motion video of drops hitting the wedge-shaped needles of longleaf pines.

According to Dickerson, dozens of studies have looked

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