During a short final discussion, participants put forward conclusions, ideas and proposals for future work under the three main themes of the meeting. These were noted and are summarised below. The items in the summary are simply in the order in which they were noted in discussion and do not suggest any priorities. A number have repetitive elements both within and across themes.
- There was a general consensus that the use of rejuvenation techniques to overcome phase-change effects was likely to be less successful than the cryopreservation in both spruce and pine.
- Somatic embryogenesis, whilst successful, is often quite genotype-specific and improvements in general applicability are needed.
- Techniques now well established on test material and cell lines need to be applied to specific material coming from breeding programmes.
- Several countries indicated that they are now ready to increase the use of clonal material in plantation forestry.
- Cryopreservation is recognised as the most successful tool in circumventing the effects of phase-change and there are clear indications that the technology is almost developed to the point of routine use.
- Now that technical details of somatic embryogenesis have virtually been mastered, developments incorporating greater automation and ensuring more predictable uniformity of the propagule will need to follow to ensure more widespread use.
- Micropropagation techniques are not currently seen to be relevant or realistic in pine.
- Effort is needed to ensure that the successful products of somatic embryogenesis emerging from laboratory culture are taken through to field-stage evaluation.
- Methods and systems need to be developed to make the best utilisation of current products of micropropagation; in particular systems of stock plant, hedge and donor management should be studied. These provide effective methods of hybridising propagation techniques to the greatest advantage.
- Do not cry "Wolf!" Feed proven levels of the new technology into existing systems while further refinements are consolidated.
- In the wider area of propagation techniques which could serve clonal forestry, the limited resources put into somatic embryogenesis now are likely to bring the most rapid advances.
- It is recognised that problems remain in the transfer of emblings to soil; this area of research should now received priority.
- Trials of clonal material should be established to study the uniformity of growth and the expression of other traits.
- It is already recognised that planting stock derived from cuttings is less subject to weevil attack by virtue of a more resistant root-collar area.
- Somatic embryogenesis can feed into established methods of commercial vegetative propagation using cuttings, through its use in creating basic hedges. Hybrid systems of this type should be established and will bring faster development of more truly clonal stock.
- The increased costs of plant production through vegetative propagation remain. Commercialisation will become a greater possibility when these can be reduced.
- All opportunities should be taken to involve producers from the commercial sector where possible to sustain a momentum in the general acceptance of clonal forestry.
- The potential gains evaluated by breeders need to be demonstrated through the establishment of networks of genetic gain trials that include clonal material.
- It is now relevant to pay attention to current and potential customer demand for clonal forestry and information on this should be studied.
- Being able to demonstrate the virtues and the lack of disastrous consequences of clonal forestry is now important. Trials and demonstrations of a range of clonal material, with clear controls for comparison should receive high priority in all countries intent upon developing clonal forestry.
- Collation of work carried out to date in a range of active countries could provide initial material to carry the interest in clonal forestry forward and encourage its acceptance.
- Persistent public resistance is likely to remain a problem and much effort to increase the awareness of methodology, genetic variability etc. will be needed.
- Nomenclature remains a problem in relation to public perception. Clone seems to imply activity at the fringe of the acceptable use of genetic material by the public. Variety is likely to cause less of this type of concern. Poplar clones are referred to in this way outside the scientific community.
- Better knowledge of markets is needed and efficient techniques to test these need to be developed.
- There is a need to proceed carefully without rushing and to find out the real questions and their importance before delivering the answers.
Spruce Breeding Network
An interest in further co-ordination of effort among those participants involved in developing clonal forestry as a product of their spruce breeding programmes was clearly expressed. No specific proposals were put forward but EU Sixth Framework and the development of an e-mail network were recognised.