With major research in the pipeline, the Forest Resources Research Center at Virginia Tech’s Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia, has upgraded its research capabilities with a new 1,800-square-foot greenhouse with more precise climate control and enough space to handle small trees.

The greenhouse has already been used for rooting the first set of research plants. Associate Professor Amy Brunner and Assistant Professor Jason Holliday will begin a major study at the greenhouse looking at nutrient use and growth responses to daylight in black cottonwood. They will ultimately identify the gene regulatory networks that control these responses.

“The study would have been extremely difficult to execute in the original 42-year-old greenhouse,” Holliday said. “The new greenhouse is very well formulated and makes it less problematic to run the experiment with a minimum of environmental variation.”

Center Superintendent Kyle Peer, who oversees day-to-day operations, managed the greenhouse planning and construction. “The new greenhouse offers better climate control, more energy efficiency, and more options for growing plants up to 9 feet tall,” he said. “The new tables and concrete floor are easier to sterilize, decreasing the potential for parasites and disease.”

The structure was built with financial support from the college, the Nancy Susan Reynolds Endowment, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Dow AgroSciences.