Plant and forest biotechnology
The common goal shared by the scientists in the strong research environment Plant and forest biotechnology is to understand the mechanisms driving plant development and plant adaptation to environmental changes. Their work is carried out at all organization levels of the plant.
The research is conducted at Umeå Plant Science Centre, one of the strongest research environments for basic plant research in Europe. The scientists at the centre are working in parallel with two primary model species, the annual herb Arabidopsis thaliana and the perennial tree Populus. Their growth patterns differ but despite this it is now clear that Arabidopsis and Populus show only minor genetic differences. Therefore the studies provide a tool for understanding the genetic basis for differences between phenotypically divergent species.
As plants are sessile organisms they have developed sophisticated ways to rapidly respond to changes in their environment, for instance how to adjust to the amount of light available and how to sense and respond to changes in temperature and nutrient availability.
Highly refined analytical techniques
Plant hormones are key regulators of plant growth and development. Highly refined analytical techniques are used at Umeå Plant Science Centre in studies of both hormone metabolism and signalling. Other researcher areas include studies on photosynthetic carbon assimilation and metabolism, interactions between photosynthetic and respiratory metabolism, nitrogen fixation and assimilation.
The researchers also address problems related to forest tree breeding, focusing on Scots pine and Norway spruce. The emphasis is on optimisation of seed orchard efficiency, pollen migration, tree breeding strategy and tactics, and on finding genetic parameters for desirable wood characteristics. Furthermore, the involvement of Umeå Plant Science Centre in the generation of the full genome sequence of the first tree, Populus trichocarpa, and in the work in progress to sequence Norway spruce open up new avenues for tree and plant genetics.