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Evaluation of wood stiffness in Douglas-fir progeny test FR280_2 and FR280_3

By Jaroslav Klápšte, Toby Stovold, Heidi Dungey , May 2019.

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Executive summary

The key outcome from this research is that wood stiffness was found to be moderately heritable, had low genotype by environment interaction and good potential still exists for improvement in this trait in the New Zealand Douglas-fir breeding programme.

An evaluation of acoustic wave velocity was performed at two sites of a Douglas-fir open-pollinated experiment, which includes a geographically broad representation of the species natural distribution. Our quantitative genetic analysis found statistically significant genetic variance and a moderate heritability. This confirms that genetic improvement of wood fibre quality continues to have potential.

Our analysis also found considerable trait stability across environments and age, making cost- effective phenotyping strategies and genomic prediction feasible for forward selection. However, silvicultural treatments are likely to cause structural changes and attenuate genetic variation. Therefore, the implementation of models accounting for spatial competition could amplify the genetic signal and consequently increase the precision of genetic parameters.

Detailed laboratory-based phenotyping of wood fibre attributes and their relationship with acoustic velocity would be beneficial. While not essential, this data would help to understand the wood structure changes associated with changes in acoustic velocity, helping tree breeders fully utilise acoustic velocity or alternative phenotyping methods in the selection process.


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