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Genetic improvement

Summary of Research
The Programme involves the production of genetically improved planting stock through the exploitation of the natural genetic variation between trees for the characteristic of greatest economic importance to the end-use. Planting improved stock will impact positively on both growing costs and rotation revenue.

The Programme involves the genetic improvement of established conifer and broadleaf species, as well as new emerging species and new origins of traditional species. It involves the use of traditional ‘low tech’ tree breeding techniques, and also the development of new ‘high-tech’ methods aimed at improving efficiencies and speed with which selected material reaches the forest.

The conifer species subject to a breeding programme are:
i. Sitka spruce
ii. Scots pine
iii. Corsican pine
iv. Hybrid larch
v. Douglas fir

The broadleaf species are
i. Oak
ii. Birch
iii. Ash
iv. Sycamore

There are up to 60 new conifer or broadleaf species being investigated under ‘Emerging’ species.

Historically, FC-sponsored breeding has been for solid wood aimed at the construction (conifer and broadleaf) or joinery (broadleaf) markets. There may be a requirement in the future to breed for new species such willow, poplar or Eucalyptus for new characteristics such as total biomass, calorific value or fibre qualities plasticity.

Two areas of new technologies are being developed to improve overall financial efficiencies:

a. DNA-markers to select the most genetically superior individuals at an earlier age in the laboratory based on DNA characteristics.

b. Tissue Culture to mass produce highly selected genotypes and deploy them to the field in large, cost-effective number as quickly as possible.

Commissioned reports



What's of interest

Find publications related to:
genetic improvement

Details of the programme:

Forestry Commission
Forest Research

Further information on work undertaken by Forest Research:
Forest management