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Approaching advanced-generation breeding in Norway spruce: balancing genetic gain and genetic diversity

Tildelt: kr 4,0 mill.




2012 - 2016

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Norway spruce is the commercially most important tree species in Norway, and the use of seed orchard seeds has increased consistently and constitutes presently about 75% of the commercial plantings. The seed orchards established from the 1960s onwards wil l now have to be renewed to meet the demand for high and stable production of climatically well adapted reproductive materials. As a corollary of this, the breeding program moves into an advanced-generation breeding as selection and mating within the seco nd generation begins. Norway spruce breeding in Norway is therefore at a crossroad in which trade-offs have to be made between accumulation of favourable genes with respect to genetic gain, genetic diversity and managing risks associated climate changes. On this background we propose a project with the objective to develop a long term breeding system for effective and sustainable seed production in Norway spruce, balancing genetic diversity and genetic gain. An important secondary aim is to estimate genet ic diversity parameters of seed orchards, seed orchard seeds and second generation selections by means of molecular markers. We will use these data to evaluate and develop models to conclude on sizes of breeding populations and suitable seed orchard desig n in an advanced-generation perspective under Norwegian conditions. With the data obtained above, we will evaluate whether large-scale use of seed orchards seeds may influence adaptive traits and genetic structure of the natural/semi-natural Norway spruce forest. Finally, we will educate a researcher in modern breeding methods (integration of genomics and quantitative-and population genetics). In conclusion, the project will provide empirically based cutting-edge knowledge needed to take the next step in sustainable Norway spruce breeding and contribute to knowledge building of vital importance for breeding research (Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute) and applied breeding (Norwegian Forest Seed Center).