Completed EU funded genetic conservation studies

Synthetic maps of gene diversity and provenance performance for utilisation and conservation of oak resources in Europe (FAIROAK)

Completed in 2000

Oak species represent a major component of the European forest resource. They supply quality wood, stabilise forests and enhance biological richness in forest eco-systems. Despite the silvicultural and economic importance of oaks, the knowledge of their genetic diversity is poorly understood. This hampers genetic improvement programmes, decisions about seed transfers, and choice of provenances from plantations. The more the species is used to afforest agricultural lands and to enrich existing forest currently in monoculture, the more information about the genetic diversity will become important.

The aim of this project was to provide geneticists, ecologists and foresters with an integrated description of oak (Quercus petraea and Q. robur) genetic resources in the form of synthetic maps based on CpDNA polymorphism and provenance variation.

Forest Research was involved with the following activities:

  • Building a geographic map of CpDNA haplotypes for GB
  • Analysing provenance tests on a range wide scale so that inferences may be drawn for seed transfer rules, comparing the provenance results with the CpDNA results in order to verify if there is any relationship between the geographic variation of growth and adaptive traits and the maternal lineage of the population
  • Evaluating the level of diversity in the Q. petraea and Q. robur species and its geographic variation, by sampling large size populations and using hypervariable markers (exhibiting numerous alleles).

FAIROAK EU web page

FAIROAK website

Intra and interspecific geneflow in oaks (OAKFLOW)

Completed December 2004

Examined intra and interspecific gene flows in oaks, as mechanisms promoting genetic diversity and adaptive potential. Forest services and conservation agencies were closely involved in testing various implications of gene flow in management and conservation issues.

Forest Research involvement in OAKFLOW project

OAKFLOW EU web page

OAKFLOW website

Genetic diversity in the river populations of the European black poplar (EUROPOP)

Completed in 2000

The european black poplar (populus nigra) is a unique pioneer species belonging to the riparian ecosystems. It has social and economic importance and is an ideal species for the study of conservation biology.

The aim of this project was to develop stategies for the conservation of European black poplar and its restoration in riparian ecosystems, based on the measurement of the genetic diversity in wild populations at different levels.

Forest Research was involved with the following activities:

  • Standardisation of methods
  • Describing the genetic diversity and studying the scale of gene exchange within and between river systems
  • Verification of existing gene banks
  • Studying key parameters of stand dynamics for in situ management and re-introduction strategies
  • Developing strategies for the conservation of P. nigra and its restoration to riparian ecosystems based on the measurement of the genetic diversity in wild populations
  • Describing the genetic diversity in ex situ collections in order to evaluate the current state of conservation in Europe
  • Formulating guidelines for in situ management and re-introduction strategies.

EUROPOP EU web page

Ash trees for the future (FRAXIGEN)

Complete in June 2005

The scientific objectives of FRAXIGEN were to:

  • Study patterns of gene flow and genetic diversity in three European Fraxinus species, and how these are influenced by variation in reproductive systems
  • Study how natural ash populations have adapted to their environment, and how anthropogenic selection for productive characters has affected adaptive variation
  • Provide guidance for governmental, private and public interest groups on the collection, exploitation, and conservation of ash genetic resources.
FRAXIGEN website

European forest genomics network (GENOSILVA)

COST Action E28 - Completed February 2006

Project objectives:

  • Use genome resource developed for model tree species linking gene sequence and gene function to enhance understanding of the genetic and cellular processes affecting tree growth and survival.
  • Use understanding to develop new tools to enhance forest productivity Dialogue with forestry practitioners, tree breeders, forest owners, forest managers and policy makers.
  • Inform the public of the use of new genetic tools and technologies; to show benefits.

GENOSILVA EU web page

GENOSILVA web site

Establishment of a European information system on forest genetic resources (EUFGIS)

Ongoing, due to end September 2010

EUFGIS aims at establishing a Web-based information system to serve as a documentation platform for national FGR inventories and to support practical implementation of gene conservation and sustainable forest management in Europe. The project will create a network of national focal persons in European countries to provide updated data for the information system once it has been established.

Before the information system can be developed, the major effort is to harmonize minimum requirements for dynamic gene conservation units of forest trees and develop common information standards for these units at pan-European level.

The project will also provide training on FGR documentation to national focal persons.

EUFGIS website