Dr. Brunner seeks to identify poplar regulatory genes that act as major genetic control points for tree growth, development, and responses to the environment.
The Brunner research team uses oligonucleotide microarrays to comprehensively characterize the expression of the popular genome during tree development and response to environmental stimuli. This information can be used to produce trees with modified qualities important to carbon sequestration, or the act of removing carbon from the atmosphere. Potentially modified qualities include root and shoot architecture, root-shoot biomass ratio, and cell wall chemistry. This approach, combined with bioinformatics and comparative genomic analysis, will be tested by transgenic manipulation of genes predicted to play critical roles in root and shoot development. A special focus in the lab is the poplar tree's transition to flowering. To identify the genes and genetic pathways controlling these changes, Dr. Brunner uses microarray expression analysis, transgenic manipulation of genes, and comparative genomic analysis.