Dr. Carol Loopstra part of the team to sequence the loblolly pine genome

USDA Announces Grants to Study Climate Change Mitigation and Bioenergy Development

Dr. Carol Loopstra Roger Beachy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced today Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) awards. "I am pleased to formally announce a significant investments by USDA in science that will impact agriculture. A research team will generate and use genomics information to provide an understanding of genes and genetics in conifers to help in developing new bioenergy sources," Beachy said. "The project feature transdisciplinary, regional, integrated teams, including scientists from institutions that represent underserved populations - an approach that represents a new paradigm in how USDA science can best solve critical issues facing agriculture today."

Beachy announced a $14.6 million NIFA award to a team led by Dr. David Neale to sequence the loblolly pine genome, and the genomes of two other conifers: sugar pine and Douglas fir. Pine genomes are extremely large at 10 times the size of the human genome. The genome sequence of these important species will accelerate breeding efforts and are expected to enhance their uses as feedstocks for biofuels and biopower. Increased planting of fast growing varieties of loblolly pine and other agroforestry crops will also contribute to carbon sequestration and help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

UC Davis is the lead institution on the 5-year Loblolly Pine Genome CAP and will be joined by the Children's Hospital of Oakland Research Institute, Washington State University, Texas A&M University, Indiana University and the University of Maryland. The pine germplasm to be sequenced comes from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Breeding Program and was produced by a mating made by the Virginia Department of Forestry.

The Department of Ecosystem Science and Management (ESSM) was formed in March 2007 by a merger of the Departments of Rangeland Ecology and Management and Forest Science. This new academic Department reflects an expanded emphasis on ecosystem science and natural resource management in its education, research, and extension programs. The Department is in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and it is comprised of 50 faculty, 57 staff, and 100 graduate and 230 undergraduate students. The primary mission of the Department is to 'solve real world problems with research-based solutions'.

See Dr. Loopstra's faculty page