Climate Change, Forest Production, and Biotechnology

Research conducted at CBGP has improved the productive potential of poplar by increasing its tolerance to environmental stress. We have obtained for the first time poplar lines more tolerant to high temperatures and other stressful situations that affect commercial yields.


The group of Dr. Luis Gómez, researcher at CBGP and professor at ETSI Montes, has raised the productive potential of poplar by improving its tolerance to relevant environmental stresses. This study has focused on abiotic factors associated with global warming, as well as on micropropagation and in vitro manipulation. Poplar is a model woody species –the first for which a complete genome sequence has been available– that is being increasingly exploited in plantations for biomass, wood and other uses.


The FAO and other international organisms estimate that forest plantations might fulfill the global need for wood in a few decades. Besides economic interest, such switch anticipates huge ecological benefits, considering current deforestation rates and their projected impact on biodiversity and climate change. This study, conducted in collaboration with the Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Universidad de Malaga, continues previous results of Dr. Gomez’s group on the mechanisms protecting cells from abiotic factors such as extreme temperatures and water stress. The poplar lines obtained here are significantly more tolerant to elevated temperatures than controls. They are also more tolerant to drought, herbicide treatments, in vitro and ex vitro culture, and other forms of abiotic stress with applied interest, as they largely affect wood and biomass yields in commercial plantations. This work has been published in the February issue of Plant Physiology, being highlighted as well in the “On the inside” section.