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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Molecular physiology of wood formation team

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Our general objective is to decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying wood formation and involved in the establishment of its chemical and mechanical properties, which contribute to wood final uses (timber, biomass, packaging, paper pulp, bioethanol ...). These properties are largely defined by the intrinsic properties of the secondary cell walls of wood fibers (such as lignin/cellulose ratio or cellulose microfibril angle). The main biological model used in the team is poplar tension wood, a reaction wood formed on the upper face of tilted stems or branches. Tension wood has unique mechanical properties that allow the tree to reorient its axes. This model is informative to understand the regulation of some metabolisms, such as lignin and cellulose biosynthesis, or the mechanisms involved in the tensioning or orientation of cellulose microfibrils in the layer G.

The team develops an approach of integrative biology by 1) analyzing transcriptomics underlying tension wood formation and selecting relevant candidate genes, 2) characterizing transgenic poplars altered for the expression of these selected genes, at the molecular and phenotypic levels, 3) identifying the molecular interactors of these genes/proteins (DNA, protein partners, polysaccharides, others), 4) integrating these experimental data into biological networks.


The mid-term objectives of the team are: 

  • To identify some regulatory networks involved in wood formation through the study of selected transcription factors and miRNAs, and their DNA targets.
  • To demonstrate, using genetic engineering, causality links between alteration of the expression of some genes, modification of wood properties and potential uses of this wood.
  • To identify the molecular actors responsible for the formation of a gel in the G layer of tension wood fibers, from which tension originates. 



Poplar is the model species. Most of the research activities are done on INRA 717-1B4 clone (P. tremula x P. alba), because it is amenable to plant transformation. For specific studies, some other clones from P. trichocarpa, P. nigra and P. deltoides x P. nigra) can be used.


Additional keywords

Functional genomics, interactome, gene networks, lignins, molecular histology, chromatin immunoprecipitation


Team leaders

Annabelle Déjardin (Research officer) & Françoise Laurans (Research engineer)


Team members

Permanent staff : Gilles Pilate (Research director), Annabelle Déjardin (Research officer), Jean-Charles Gaudin (Research officer), Françoise Laurans (Research engineer), Nathalie Boizot (Research Engineer), Justine Corret (Assistant engineer)



Current projects

  • APR-IR/Région Val de Loire PRESTO (High-throughput prediction of tree and vine vulnerability to biotic and abiotic stresses) - 2020-2022