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Douglas-fir breeding and genomics, Specialty Wood Products Research aligned SSIF

By Dagmar Goeke, Natalie Graham, Emily Telfer, Jaroslav Klápšte, Mari Suontama and Heidi Dungey , June 2018.

Download SWP-T058 (pdf)

Executive summary

Douglas-fir research in the SWP programme has taken a huge step towards testing genomics for implementation of genomic selection methodology in the breeding programme. Genomics research has been funded through the Scion Strategic Investment Funds (SSIF). The testing of genomic selection (GS) in a Douglas-fir breeding programme was initiated as part of the Specialty Wood Products Partnership Programme (SWP), to explore the potential for genomic tools to increase Douglas-fir competitiveness for the New Zealand forest industry. The project was initiated by a revision of the current breeding programme and the selection of suitable field experiments to create a robust genomic selection training population (Klápšte et al. 2017).

The theoretical main advantage of genomic selection is to utilise genomic marker based relationship matrices in genetic evaluation which enhances gains by more accurate selections. Another advantage is that when adequately robust genomic based models are available, selection can be based solely on markers. This enables selection without phenotypes and the progeny testing phase can be skipped, leading to a shorter generation interval and increased genetic gains per unit of time. A robust genomic marker resource where the genotyping of breeding population candidates is based on is a prerequisite for the successful implementation of marker-based selection. We have obtained collaborative access to use the SNP resource (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) developed by the Oregon State University in order for genotyping to take place.

As a further research for SNP quality assurance, we will be testing haploid material from Douglas- fir seed that can potentially provide additional knowledge of SNP markers. Conifers are large and complex organisms and can have large gene families. Therefore, when developing or utilising a SNP resource for the first time, inclusion of haploid material provides assurance that SNPs are biologically real and not a composites of pseudo markers from multiple highly homologous loci.

The first milestone in this task is to initiate genotyping of training population individuals. The second milestone in this task is to optimise DNA extraction of haploid megagametophyte tissue from Douglas-fir seed and the development of DNA markers suitable for distinguishing haploid and diploid material.

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