skip to main content


Title: Network-based integration of systems genetics data reveals pathways associated with lignocellulosic biomass accumulation and processing

As a consequence of their remarkable adaptability, fast growth, and superior wood properties, eucalypt tree plantations have emerged as key renewable feedstocks (over 20 million ha globally) for the production of pulp, paper, bioenergy, and other lignocellulosic products. However, most biomass properties such as growth, wood density, and wood chemistry are complex traits that are hard to improve in long-lived perennials. Systems genetics, a process of harnessing multiple levels of component trait information (e.g., transcript, protein, and metabolite variation) in populations that vary in complex traits, has proven effective for dissecting the genetics and biology of such traits. We have applied a network-based data integration (NBDI) method for a systems-level analysis of genes, processes and pathways underlying biomass and bioenergy-related traits using a segregating Eucalyptus hybrid population. We show that the integrative approach can link biologically meaningful sets of genes to complex traits and at the same time reveal the molecular basis of trait variation. Gene sets identified for related woody biomass traits were found to share regulatory loci, cluster in network neighborhoods, and exhibit enrichment for molecular functions such as xylan metabolism and cell wall development. These findings offer a framework for identifying the molecular underpinnings of complex biomassmore » and bioprocessing-related traits. Furthermore, a more thorough understanding of the molecular basis of plant biomass traits should provide additional opportunities for the establishment of a sustainable bio-based economy.« less
 [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of Pretoria, Pretoria (South Africa)
  2. Ghent Univ., Gent (Belgium)
  3. Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Canada)
  4. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  5. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  6. Ghent Univ., Gent (Belgium); VIB, Gent (Belgium)
  7. Univ. of Pretoria, Pretoria (South Africa); Ghent Univ., Gent (Belgium); VIB, Gent (Belgium)
  8. Univ. of Pretoria, Pretoria (South Africa); Ghent Univ., Gent (Belgium)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Grant/Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308; AC05-00OR22725
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 114; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; systems genetics; lignocellulosic biomass; cell wall; bioenergy; network-based data integration
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1394604