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Henrik Böhlenius

Henrik Böhlenius
Henrik Böhlenius is an external collaboration specialist at SLU with poplar plantations as his research area. Henrik has more than 10 years expertise in R & D work in the area of fast growing tree species; specially poplars and hybrid aspen; including regeneration e.g. (plat types, soil preparation, vegetation control, low soil pH, lime and ash treatments on forest land) management of production stands e.g. (biomass production if first and second generation plantations, tinning practises) production capacity, clone selection, climate adaptation.


Research background

There are approximately 400 000 ha agricultural land that can be used without interfering with food production. However there are more than 1 000 000 ha forest land (depending on site index) that can be used. If only a few percentages (10%) of forest land are used this can result in 100 000 ha of poplar plantations. Thus, there is a need for increased knowledge about management of poplar plantations.

The first step towards successful poplar plantations are the regeneration and here large efforts should be taken to ensure a secure and efficient regeneration.

Poplars have a high production (25-30 m3 per ha and year) and short rotation length (15-20 years). From this perspective, poplars could be a great source of wood and/or biomass in a bio-based economy, were the wood/biomasses usage are not restricted to traditional forest industry but used additional industrial processes.

In a future changing climate, disease outbreaks and storms will increase. To tackle these challenges of future disease outbreak, there is a need to reduce rotation length and use the possibility to change genetic material to tackle these problems.


Future vision with poplars

In my future vision, I believe that large scale poplar plantation across Sweden will be of importance for the public and industry. This includes robust and cost efficient establishment methods and management at the stand level. Today most poplar plantations are fenced. However, in the future I envision poplar plantations without fence. I believe that this is important for not interfering with the public recreation possibilities in the forest.

The first step towards successful poplar plantations are to identify the important parameters influencing plant establishment on forest and agricultural land.

Academic degrees

2018: Appointed as associated professor (docent) in forest management (Skogshushållning) at SLU Alnarp.

 2007: PhD in Biology specialized in Forest biotechnology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå Plant Science Centre, Dept of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology. Thesis title “Control of flowering time and growth cessation in Arabidopsis and Populus Trees”.

2001: Master of Science in Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Sweden. Thesis title “The flowering meristem gene LEAFY is controlled by gibberellins and a labile repressor”.



I currently lecturer for a course within the Euroforester master’s programme at our department: “Sustainable Forestry in Southern Sweden” every fall and at Lantmästarprogrammet every spring.

On a yearly basis I supervise Master thesis and have until now supervised more than 10 students.



Current research

My current research interests are about how manage fast growing board leaves with focus on Populus spp. under Swedish conditions. The main focus of my research are how poplars should be established on both forest and agricultural land and the production potential of poplars on forest and agricultural land in comparison to native tree species; birch, spruce and pine.

Examples of research questions that I have addressed during the last years are:

  • How is the choice of plant type influencing survival and growth at forest and agricultural land
  • Explored the importance of controlling competing vegetation during the establishment
  • Influence of cutting phenotype in production of containerized plants.
  • Biomass production in second generation poplar plantations under different thinning regimes.
  • What are the under lying genetics differences between hybrid aspen and poplars influencing plant establishment on forest land.

Previous research experience

My previous research has concerned genetics, plant molecular biology and cell biology of several model plants including hybrid aspen, barley and Arabidopsis.

I conducted my master research at Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Umea under supervision of Prof Ove Nilsson, working with regulation of gene expression of the LEAFY, a gene essential for flower development. This was a successful and exiting start to my scientific career and opened up the possibility to continue as a PhD student at the same research group. My research topic dealt with a basic understanding; how does trees know when to flower and when to stop growing. Here I used several novel approaches to analyze gene expression in different aspens provenances and constructing transgenic plants. As a result, I and my co-authors identified that the same regulatory module (CO-FT) controls both flower initiation and growth cessation for aspen trees. This paper was published in Science and has been cited more than 480 times (web of Science 2017).

After completing my PhD I directed my research towards research projects that could be more practically applied and therefore joined the group of Prof Hans Thordal-Christensen, University of Copenhagen as my first post-doctoral position. Here I studied defense mechanisms in barley against powdery mildew. By using a transient gene expression system I identifed a new unknown gene (ARF1-GTPase) necessary for penetration resistance. Further studies of ARF1 discovered that it mediates translocation of another penetration resistance protein ROR2 to the penetration site. This work was published in Plant Cell. During my time at Copenhagen University, I also took part in discovering a protein motif that is involved in transport of proteins across membranes. This discovery was further developed into a method for delivering drugs to the right cellular compartment in humans and resulted in a patent application.


Extensive and close collaboration with industry and institutes, with Bergvik AB, SCA, Holmen skog skogssälskapet, SweTree Technologies, Alasian poplar, Skånefrö, Nordkalk, SkåneEnergi, Yara, skogforsk, and Energy Poplars. Seven collaborative research projects; were in six projects industry have co-financed projects with 50% of the budget, three student projects with industrial partners. More than 20 publication in popular media and 2 television news for disseminating results. More than 30 lecturer to industry and private landowner and about 10 industrial and private consultations yearly. Organizer of two webinars and two workshops/excursions with industry.

Special commission;
2018 - 2019 Member of scientific advisory board for development of climate game for high school students.
2019 - Member of the steering group of SLU/SE research and education collaboration.
2019 - Member of the steering group of regional forest strategy (county Skåne and Västra Götaland)
2018 - Member of the steering group of department at SLU
2018 - Member of Scientific council for unit for Field based research at SLU.
2018 - Member of working committee of Partnership Alnarp.
2018 - Secretary of subject group Forest of Partnership Alnarp.
2017 - Member of steering group of Forest and Tree Center South.
2015 - Member of board of Tree Center South.
2015 - Chair of election comity of National Commission for Fast-Growing Deciduous Trees (IPC).

Selected publications

  • CO/FT regulatory module controls timing of flowering and seasonal growth cessation in perennial trees.
  • Böhlenius H., Haung T., Charbonnel-Campaa L., Brunner AM., Jansson S., Strauss SH., Nilsson O*. Science. (2006).
  • GA4 is the active gibberellin in LEAFY transcription and Arabidopsis flower initiation. Eriksson S., Böhlenius H., Moritz T., Nilsson O*. Plant Cell. (2006).
  •  Powdery mildew fungal effector candidates share N-terminal Y/F/WxC-motif Godfrey D., Böhlenius H., Pedersen C., Zhang Z., Emmersen J., Thordal-Christensen H* BMC Genomics. (2010).
  • The mMultivesicular body-localized GTPase ARFA1b/1c is important for callose deposition and ROR2 syntaxin-dependent pre-invasive basal defense in barley Böhlenius H., Mørch M S., Godfrey D., Nielsen E M., Thordal-Christensen H*. Plant Cell. (2010).
  • On ARF1 Localizes to the Golgi and Trans-Golgi Network: Future challenge in Plant Multivesicular Body Studies. Thordal-Christensen H*., Böhlenius H., Morch SM., Nielsen E M*. Plant Cell (2011).
  • Arabidopsis ARF-GTP exchange factor, GNOM, mediates transport required for innate immunity and focal accumulation of syntaxin PEN1 Nielsen M E., Feechan A., Böhlenius H., Ueda T.,Thordal-Christensen H*. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2012).
  • Effects of Direct Application of Fertilizers and Hydrogel on the Establishment of Poplar Cuttings Böhlenius H* and Övergaard R. Forests 2014.
  • Short-rotation bioenergy stands as an alternative to spruce monocultures: Implications for bird biodiversity. Lindbladh M*., Hedwall P.-O., Wallin I., Felton A. M., Böhlenius H., Felton A. Silva Fennica (2014).
  • Early development of pure and mixed treespecies plantations in snogeholm, southern sweden Drössler, L*., Övergaard, R., Ekö, P.M., Gemmel, P., Böhlenius H. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research (2015).
  • Böhlenius, H* and Övergaard, R. Growth response of hybrid poplars to different types and levels of vegetation control. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research (2015).
  • Böhlenius, H* and Övergaard, R. Exploration of optimal agricultural practices and seedling types for establishing poplar plantations. Forests (2015).
  • Böhlenius, H* and Övergaard, R. Impact of seedling type on early growth of poplar plantations on forest and agricultural land. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research (2016).
  • Böhlenius H*., Övergaard R., Jämtgård S Influence of soil types on establishment and early growth of Populus trichocarpa. Open journal of forest research, (2016).
  • Böhlenius, H*., Övergaard, R.; Asp, H. Growth response of hybrid aspen (populus × wettsteinii) and populus  trichocarpa to different ph levels and nutrient availabilities. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, (2016).
  • Cleary M. R*., Blomquist M., Vetukuri R.R., Böhlenius H., and Witzell J. Susceptibility of common tree species in Sweden to Phytophthora cambivora, P. plurivora and P. cactorum. Forest pathology (2016).
  • Influence of cutting quality in production of containerized poplar plants. Böhlenius H*., Holmström E., Fransson Thomas., Carl Salk.Forests (2017).
  • Kwaaitaal, Mark; Nielsen, Mads; Böhlenius, Henrik; Thordal-Christensen, Hans* The plant membrane surrounding powdery mildew haustoria shares properties with the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Journal of experimental botany (2017).
  • Ding, Jihua; Böhlenius, Henrik; Rühl, Mark; Chen, Peng; Sane, Shashank; Zambrano, Jose ; Zheng, Bo; Eriksson, Maria; Nilsson, Ove. GIGANTEA -like genes Control Seasonal Growth Cessation in Populus New Phytologist 2018.