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Smart lab publishes paper using capacitance as a predictor of root dry wt. in shrub willow

Carlson and Smart 2016 APPS 4(8)1600031Premise:

Root biomass is an important trait often disregarded in woody perennial selection due to the challenge and expense of accurately and efficiently measuring large populations. In this study, we aim to develop a simple method that can predict root dry weight within a diverse shrub willow (Salix spp.) breeding population representing species hybrids and their parents using root electrical capacitance (REC). This work provides an efficient and nondestructive technique to indirectly quantify root biomass of genetically diverse shrub willow progeny, which has great promise for selection of genotypes with varying root biomass and for the accurate estimation of belowground carbon sequestration.

Go to the article now: Carlson, C.H. and Smart, L.B. (2016) Electrical capacitance as a predictor of root dry weight in shrub willow (Salix; Salicaceae) parents and progeny. Applications in Plant Sciences, 4(8):1600031.

New paper from Smart Lab on GxE in shrub willow



Shrub willow is showing promise as a dedicated bioenergy crop in areas of North America. Early breeding efforts have demonstrated that its broad taxonomic diversity can be exploited for genetic improvement. However, a comprehensive evaluation of the yield potentials of currently available cultivars has not occurred in North America. We used the Additive Main effects and Multiplicative Interactions (AMMI) model to explore genotype by environment interactions for the identification of broad and specific adaptation. We confirmed ploidy level as a key genetic factor involved in yield improvements which will be important for developing cultivar recommendations and informing future breeding work.

Go to the article now: Fabio, E. S., Volk, T. A., Miller, R. O., Serapiglia, M. J., Gauch, H. G., Van Rees, K. C.J., Hangs, R. D., Amichev, B. Y., Kuzovkina, Y. A., Labrecque, M., Johnson, G. A., Ewy, R. G., Kling, G. J. and Smart, L. B. (2016), Genotype by environment interactions analysis of North American shrub willow yield trials confirms superior performance of triploid hybrids. GCB Bioenergy. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12344


Smart Lab battles shrub willow leaf rust

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Cornell research battles shrub willow leaf rust

By Matt Hayes

“…Larry Smart and his team will explore the genetic basis for rust resistance in shrub willow. By using cutting-edge genetic mapping approaches to identify the genes involved in rust resistance in willow, the team can generate molecular markers to be used by breeding programs in the early selection of resistant seedlings.”

“The focus of the project is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the crop, maintaining yields and continuing to breed improved cultivars.”

Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The Cornell Chronicle is Cornell’s primary source of news since 1969. The site publishes daily news about research, outreach, events and the Cornell community.

Smart Lab bioenergy research featured in latest issue of periodiCALS

periodiCALS vol5 issue3 2015Forage and Fuel: Feeding the Global Appetites
periodiCALS Vol. 5 | Issue 3 | 2015

By Sarah Thompson


“There is a strong push for local production of food these days; I would love to see us make the same push for local production of renewable energy”

– Larry Smart ’87, associate professor of horticulture in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences

periodiCALS is The Magazine of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

New Fact Sheets: ‘Fabius’, ‘Preble’, and Genetic Diversity Groups

New Willowpedia fact sheets published in August 2015 describing the latest shrub willow cultivars commercialized for bioenergy in Larry Smart’s breeding program are now available on the Willowpedia website.

‘Fabius’ has been tested across a wide range of sites and is a consistent winner relative to other cultivars according to recent research by Ph.D. candidate Eric Fabio in Smart’s lab.  It produced over 6 dry tons per acre per year in a trial in Middlebury, VT and has produced similar yields in trials in Geneva, NY.

‘Preble’ has been tested on a fewer number of sites, but it has also yielded over 6 dry tons per acre per year on Northeast sites.  A US Plant Patent was issued for ‘Preble’ on June 10, 2014.

Both of these cultivars are in Diversity Group 8, which also includes ‘Tully Champion’, ‘Otisco’, and ‘Owasco’.  It is strongly recommended that fields should be planted with cultivars from different diversity groups either in blocks or in random mixtures to slow the onset of disease and pest outbreaks and to capitalize on the ability of genetically diverse cultivars to excel in various microsites across a field.

The willow cultivar genetic diversity groups were recently revised by Smart’s lab when it became known that ‘SX61’ and its offspring, ‘Canastota’, ‘Marcy’, and ‘Sherburne’, should be classified as Salix miyabeana and placed in Diversity group 5.

This fact sheet also includes a table of relative susceptibilities of the current commercial cultivars to common pests and diseases.  The fact sheets were authored by Ph.D. candidate Fred Gouker and Larry Smart and were partially supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant 2012-68005-19703 for the NEWBio Project from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


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