BioEnergy Research

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 731–739 | Cite as

Genetic Parameters of Factors Affecting the Biomass Recalcitrance of Douglas Fir Trees

  • Scott Geleynse
  • Keith Jayawickrama
  • Matt Trappe
  • Terrance Ye
  • Xiao Zhang


Although forestry residuals provide a potentially abundant source of biomass, Douglas fir is a particularly challenging feedstock to utilize in the biochemical conversion to fuels and value-added chemicals due to its high levels of biomass recalcitrance. A greater understanding of the underlying factors behind highly recalcitrant biomass is critical in overcoming this problem. Building on earlier efforts to establish a protocol and a “recalcitrance factor” for screening the recalcitrance of trees, this study attempts to provide the first look into the genetic factors behind recalcitrance in Douglas fir with the possibility of using selective breeding and tree improvement practices to reduce recalcitrance in future generations of our forest products. Samples from over 250 Douglas fir trees in a second-cycle progeny test were collected and subjected to screening. Samples were subjected to a dilute-acid pretreatment and a subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis procedure, ultimately measuring the raw wood density, pretreatment yield, the holocellulose content of pretreated samples, hydrolyzability, and recalcitrance factor. From these data, the heritability, genetic gains, and genetic correlations were estimated. Based on these results, we predict that modifying recalcitrance in tree improvement may be feasible, but would likely require some additional understanding and improved screening techniques.


Biomass recalcitrance Douglas fir Tree improvement Forest genetics Multi-level biomass analysis 



Funding for this study is provided through the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance Project, supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This study is also supported, in part, by National Science Foundation (award number 1067012). Permission provided by Plum Creek Timber Company and Campbell Global to access the test site and obtain samples is also acknowledged.

Supplementary material

12155_2016_9718_MOESM1_ESM.docx (76 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 76 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott Geleynse
    • 1
  • Keith Jayawickrama
    • 2
  • Matt Trappe
    • 2
  • Terrance Ye
    • 2
  • Xiao Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Bioproducts Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and BioengineeringWashington State UniversityRichlandUSA
  2. 2.College of ForestryOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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