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NOTE: The video and podcast of this colloquium will be embargoed until after the referenced research is published (date TBD).
Wood is the most abundant carbon biomass on earth and the major source of sustainable green fibers and bioproducts. Globally, 550 gigatons of carbon are stored as wood, representing 57% of the biogenic carbon sink. Despite the importance of wood fibers, its production has remained largely limited to undomesticated forest trees with often sub-optimal wood properties that hamper production efficiency. Here, we show that strategic multiplex CRISPR-based genome editing of monolignol biosynthetic genes improves wood properties beyond natural variations or the editing of single genes, and debottlenecks a key operational constraint in industrial pulp mills. The improvements substantially increase fiber production capacity while reducing the global warming potential of pulp mills, leading to a more sustainable and efficient fiber bioeconomy.
Jack Wang is Assistant Professor and Director of the Forest Biotechnology Program at NC State University. He is also co-founder and CSO of TreeCo, an NCSU startup company. His research focuses on the molecular genetics and genome editing of trees to enhance forest resilience and productivity.
GES Colloquium (GES 591-002) is jointly taught by Drs. Jen Baltzegar and Dawn Rodriguez-Ward, who you may contact with any class-specific questions. Colloquium will generally be live-streamed via Zoom, with monthly in-person meetings in 1911 Building, Room 129. Please subscribe to the GES newsletter and Twitter for updates.