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[2017-01-19] UPSC and SweTree Technologies announced today that they have entered into partnership with the VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology to accelerate research on tree value and productivity. The joint research collaboration aims to identify new genes for growth increase in trees and is envisioned to strengthen all involved parties. The study results will be published in leading scientific journals.

The joint project of Belgian and Swedish scientists builds on accumulated experience on functional genomics of genes controlling growth in annual plants as well as trees. This partnership combines four important assets: the strong research on tree biology and genomics at UPSC; the excellent industrial tree biotechnology capabilities of SweTree Technologies; the world-leading expertise in plant growth and productivity of the research group of Dirk Inzé (VIB-UGent); and the outstanding expertise in bio-informatics and comparative genomics of the lab of Klaas Vandepoele (VIB-UGent).

“This agreement will bring the UPSC and VIB research environments closer together, by exchanging researchers more frequently and by arranging joint scientific meetings”, says Ove Nilsson, director of UPSC. “We are very excited about this opportunity to deepen our scientific collaborations with the VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology, one of the strongest research environments in Europe for experimental plant research. It is an excellent complement to our research interests and we are especially excited about the possibilites to make cutting-edge comparative genomics analysis between Arabidopsis, maize and poplar trees.”

VIB and UPSC will share all data and develop new bioinformatics tools to identify key conserved regulators of growth and wood formation. “My team is passionate about understanding plant growth and how this is controlled by both intrinsic development programs and environmental cues”, says Dirk Inzé. “By using the experimental advantages of both Arabidopsis and maize as model systems we have made remarkable progress in understanding plant growth and crop yield. And we’re just getting started.”

In a first joint-research project, the researchers will test identified key genes for their growth and yield-promoting abilities in Arabidopsis, maize and poplar trees. SweTree Technologies will contribute to the collaboration with knowledge from tree plantations and they will test the best lead genes in Eucalyptus.

“We are delighted by the collaboration between UPSC, VIB and SweTree Technologies”, says Carl-Gustav Löf, CEO of SweTree Technologies. “With our joint efforts, we anticipate to take important steps towards significantly increasing the values of forestry plantations and agricultural crops.”

Left: Klaas Vandepoele and Dirk Inzé from VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology (photo: Karel Spruyt); Right: Ove Nilsson from UPSC and Carl-Gustav Löf from SweTree Technologies (photo: Anne Honsel)

Ove Nilsson (Director UPSC): +46 70 286 9082

VIB for Plant Systems Biology
Dirk Inzé (Science director VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology): +32 477 695 746
Griet Verhaegen (Business Development Manager VIB): +32 477 61 07 72

SweTree Technologies
Carl-Gustav Löf (CEO SweTree Technologies): +46 70 609 95 10