Quantitative genetics and developments in Scion’s tree breeding programmes

Authors: Heidi Dungey, Bob Shula, Mari Suontama, Yongjun Li, Charlie Low, Toby Stovold
Publication: New Zealand Journal of Forestry, Volume N.Z.J.For. 2015, Issue N.Z.J.For. 60(1) 2015, pp 12-16, May 2015
Publisher: New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Abstract: Quantitative genetics has been the engine behind tree breeding in New Zealand since the 1950s. Put simply, it involves the investigation of variances and the relative proportion of heritable (or genetic) variation, compared with the variation in the observed phenotype (what the tree looks like). Methods are changing rapidly in the field of genetics. With improvements in analytical platforms and techniques, and the change in relative costs of genotyping using DNA-based technologies, there are exciting times ahead. At Scion, we are very enthusiastic and excited about new synergies between various science disciplines that have recently evolved. Within two to five years we believe that this will also deliver significant value to forest growers and wood processors. This short commentary outlines quantitative genetics and some analytical platforms and techniques that have become very useful, and why. We then discuss what has changed at Scion recently and briefly discuss the breeding programme for Douglas-fir, cypress and fastgrowing eucalypts. Radiata pine breeding is undertaken by the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (RPBC) and is therefore not within the scope of this discussion paper.
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