Poplar tree improvement strategies are needed to enhance ecosystem services’ provisioning and achieve phytoremediation objectives. We evaluated the establishment potential of new poplar clones developed at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) from sixteen phytoremediation buffer systems (phyto buffers) (buffer groups: 2017 × 6; 2018 × 5; 2019 × 5) throughout the Lake Superior and Lake Michigan watersheds. We divided clones into Experimental (testing stage genotypes) and Common (commercial and/or research genotypes) clone groups and compared them with each other and each NRRI clone (NRRI group) at the phyto buffers. We tested for differences in clone groups, phyto buffers, and their interactions for survival, health, height, diameter, and volume from ages one to four years. First-year survival was 97.1%, with 95.5%, 96.2%, and 99.6% for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 buffer groups, respectively. All trees had optimal health. Fourth-year mean annual increment of 2017 buffer group trees ranged from 2.66 ± 0.18 to 3.65 ± 0.17 Mg ha−1 yr−1 . NRRI clones ‘99038022’ and ‘9732-31’ exhibited exceptional survival and growth across eleven and ten phyto buffers, respectively, for all years. These approaches advance poplar tree improvement efforts throughout the region, continent, and world, with methods informing clonal selection for multiple end-uses, including phytotechnologies.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This work was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI; Template #738 Landfill Runoff Reduction).

Keywords and Phrases

Clonal selection; Genotype × environment (G x E) interactions; Multi-environmental trials (MET); Phenotypic plasticity; Phyto buffers; Phyto-recurrent selection; Phytotechnologies; Poplars; Populus

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

13 Apr 2021