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This article is part of the supplement: IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference 2011: From Genomes to Integration and Delivery

Open Access Poster presentation

Gene expression responses of black spruce (Picea mariana) to global climate change conditions

Om Rajora1*, Jinhong Kim1, John Major2 and John Malcolm2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, 28 Dineen Drive, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada

2 Natural Resources Canada, Atlantic Forestry Centre, 1350 Regent Street, Fredericton, NB E3B 5P7, Canada

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BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 7):P99  doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S7-P99

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:13 September 2011

© 2011 Rajora et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Poster presentation

Global climate change conditions (elevated CO2 and atmospheric temperatures) are subjecting our forests, especially Boreal and temperate forests, to significant abiotic stresses, such as drought. This can affect health, productivity and fitness of our forests. Therefore, it is imperative to understand genomic and eco-physiological responses of forest trees to global climate change. We are addressing this aspect in black spruce (Picea mariana) - a transcontinental, ecologically and economically important tree species of the North American Boreal forest. Our objective was to determine gene expression and physiological responses and their inter-relationships in black spruce to elevated CO2, drought and co-stressed conditions.

We have used NGS whole transcriptome sequencing, cDNA-AFLP and qPCR analyses to identify, annotate and characterize genes expressed differentially in response to elevated CO2, drought and combined elevated CO2 and drought conditions in black spruce using the cloned material. Photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance were measured simultaneously with tissue collection for RNA extraction. Thousands of transcripts (genes) showed differential expression (no expression, up-regulation or down-regulation) in response to elevated CO2, drought and/or their combined conditions, with over 1600 genes from several pathways showing >10-folds gene expression differences between control and treated plants. A number of genes showed 100 to 500 folds up or down regulation in response to elevated CO2, drought or their combined conditions. Responses to each treatment at the gene expression and physiological levels were correlated well among different genotypes. We will present these results which contribute significantly to our understanding of tree’s responses to global climate change.