What do poplar trees have to do with climate change? In addition to their status as a fast-growing candidate for biofuels production, poplar trees play an important role in influencing plant and animal communities in forest ecosystems. By studying the genetic variants in poplar trees, researchers are working to better understand the impacts of climate change -- and working to develop specific strains of poplars for various applications, like biofuel production. In 2006, researchers at the Energy Department’s Joint Genome Institute led the effort to successfully sequence the genome of the poplar tree. They now have identified the candidate genes that will help domesticate poplar for biomass and reduce the cost of biofuel production. | Photo courtesy of the DOE Joint Genome Institute.