A team of researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Bowie State University is working on ways to turn poplar trees into high-yield crops for biofuels including ethanol, the renewable biofuel used in gasoline blends and flex-fuel vehicles. The hybrid trees would be grown on plantations and harvested without affecting existing woodlands.

One of the keys to doing so is to understand how it stores and cycles nitrogen, since nitrogen is an important factor in the growth and productivity of trees and crops.