The main goal of this project is to develop an integrative and multidisciplinary genomic research in conifers, using high-throughput platforms for sequencing, genotyping and functional analysis, to unravel genome organization and identification of genes and gene networks controlling important ecological and economic traits, such as those related to the control and the reduction of climatic change impact in relation to growth, drought and cold stress.
ProCoGen will make an effort to integrate the outcomes of other international initiatives especially from America (Pinus taeda), Sweden (Picea abies) and Canada (Picea glauca, P. sitchensis, P. mariana) and focus its research efforts on model tree species representing two pine sub-famililes, from different European regions, of high economic importance:
Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster, Atlantic and Mediterranean Europe)
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris, Central and Northern Europe)
Norway spruce (Picea abies, Central and Northern Europe)
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) of high economic interest in UK
For these species there are advanced breeding programs and a number of molecular tools already available. They cover different breeding and deployment strategies (large genetic base varieties up to clonal selection and deployment). By adopting a coordinated and collaborative approach, ProCoGen will not only unify the efforts and resources in conifer genomics at European level, integrating fragmented activities of European research groups involved in the ongoing international conifer genome initiatives, but will also strengthen international collaboration with North American initiatives.
Develop an integrative genomic research programme in model conifer species. The generation of genetic resources by sequencing of two complete conifer genomes and analyzing their genetic diversity through exome re-sequencing, together with studies of transcriptome dynamics and regulatory switches of gene expression will help generate new tools not only for gaining significant advances in basic information on pine structural and functional genomics, and epigenetics, but also for translation of basic results into selection tools to assist breeding and forest management.
Develop new bioinformatic solutions for optimal transformation of large amounts of data into useful information. Genome annotation will include both a structural and functional annotation. Structural annotation will identify and map different elements such as protein-coding genes, transposable elements and non-coding genes on the assembled genome. Gene families will be built for further downstream bioinformatics analyses. Transcriptome data will be used to infer transcriptional regulatory networks through the use of software tools that link potential regulators and transcriptional modules. State-of-the-art computational infrastructure and software architecture will ensure fast and accurate processing of data.
Develop conifer comparative studies for understanding evolution and evaluate efficiency of information and resources transferring to other conifer species. This objective is based on the integration of genomic resources developed in different model conifer species not only in Europe but also in North America.
Establish an effective molecular-assisted pre-breeding capacity in Europe by transforming discoveries into tools. In order to assist, identify and quantify associations in the variation at the genotypic and phenotypic levels to enable genome-assisted breeding and resource management.
Provide training in emerging technological and translational approaches, disseminate the results to different stakeholders and transfer technology to the forestbased sector.
The overall research will generate tools to facilitate maintainance of adapted forest ecosystems in the face of global climate change, in order to sustain productive working forests that provide for the European wood and energy needs of the future. Beyond its scientific and economic interests, the project will reinforce the European leadership in conifer genomics and produce a competitive advantage to the European forestbased sector in the global market as emphasized in the vision and strategic research agenda of the FTP (Forest-based sector Technology Platform).