The UPSC industrial research school was on tree breeding tour in Australia and New Zealand

This spring, PhD students and two PIs of the UPSC Research School of Forest Genetics, Biotechnology and Breeding visited different forest research organisations and forest companies in New Zealand and Australia. On their two weeks long trip they got an overview over the Australian forestry sector, and insights into national breeding and seed preservation programs. This was the third time the research school was organising an international excursion. Unfortunately, the additional visit to forestry sites in China had to be cancelled due to the start of the Corona pandemic.

”This trip was amazing, inspiring and a once-in-a-life-time-opportunity,” says Bodil Häggström, one of the students that joined the excursion. “One obvious difference when comparing this area to Sweden is of course the very different assemblage of species”, she explains further. But also “the much higher focus on using foreign species for wood production compared to Swedish forestry where native species are the most used”, was new and interesting information for her.

In New Zealand, the members of the research school visited two institutions – Scion and Timberlands limited. The governmental owned institute Scion is a located in Rotorua and is specialised in research, science and technology development for forest industry. Beside breeding programs, the group got insights into other research activities. Some of those clearly remembered of research conducted at UPSC, like whole genome sequencing of radiata pine, research on somatic embryogenesis or forest pathology.

Timberlands Limited, one of the big New Zealand forest companies working with forest management and operations works closely together with Scion but produces their own clones. The students visited a nursery outside of Rotorua that produces about 10 Million seedlings per year.

Confused assembling in redwoods at SCIONTe Ngae Nursery Timberlands NZ
Participants of the excursion gathering under Redwood trees from the Scion breeding program (left). A Timberland limited nursery outside of Rotorua (Photos: B. Häggström and MR. García-Gil)

The first Australian institution they visited was Tree Breeding Australia (TBA). TBA is the Australian national body that manages tree improvement programs. The original goal of the TBA is to create seed orchards and new breeding values for the Australian forestry industry. In their breeding arboreta, the students saw the production of new genotype seed material for forestry companies. The main species they work with are radiata pine and blue gum eucalyptus. 

Another Australian Institution, the research school group took a closer look at, was the Australian Tree Seed Centre (ATSC). The ATSC belongs to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and is one of the National Research Collections. ATSC is a collection and research centre for Australian native tree species and has been supplying quality tree seed to customers worldwide. ATSC not only has a big physical collection of seeds but also an extensive database with information about these seeds. The data can be used to track nationally and internationally exported tree material and also in worldwide studies on invasive species.

Straight rows eucalyptus TBAKoala in eucalypt TBA koala habitatlgTBbhNCdOg
Eucalyptus clones are planted in straight rows at a TBA plantage (photo left).  Eucalyptus is not only an important Australian tree species for forestry but also serves as habitat for Koalas (photo middle). In ATSC seed storage all seeds are stored in tin cans to keep them dry (photo right; Photos: B Häggström, MR García-Gil).

Thesis defense: Irena Fundova, 24th April 2020

Thesis defense: Irena Fundova

Thesis Title: Quantitative genetics of wood quality traits in Scots pine

Date: 2020-04-24, 9:00, P-O Bäckström Sal.

Opponent: Philippe Rozenberg, French National Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE)

The committee:
Ann Christin Rönnberg-Wästljung, Dpt. Plant biology, SLU 
Arne Steffenrem, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, NIBIO 
Matti Haapanen, National Resource Insitutet Finland, LUKE

Congratulations to Irena Fundova! She successfully defended her PhD thesis at SLU Umeå. Due to the current situation and following official regulations, the entire thesis defens was broadcasted online. Both the commitee and the opponent joint remotely. The whole defens has been recorded and the video is still openly accessible (link: 

irenafundova defens portraitdefens irenafundova screenshot
Irena Fundova after successfully defending her PhD. The whole defens was conducted online with the commmitee members joining remotely (Photos: S. Ranade,
R. Garcia-Gil).

On the homepage of UPSC you can read more about Irena and her PhD work. Please follow this link: Fast and non-destructive ways to estimate wood quality in forest trees to optimize breeding strategies for Scots pine

Thesis defense: Alexis Sullivan, 11th March 2020

Thesis defense: Alexis SULLIVAN

Thesis title: A Forest Dark: An Evolutionary History of Norway Spruce

Date: 2020-03-11, 13:00, Kempe salen KBC.

Opponent: Prof. Bengt Oxelman, Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg.

The committee:

Professor Martin Lascoux, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University
Docent Folmer Bokma, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo
Docent Benedicte Albrectsen, Department of Plant Physiology, UPSC, Umeå University

Visit to SweTree Technology, 9th December 2019

On 9th of December 2020 some students of the resaerch school were visiting the facilities of SweTree Technologies in Umeå. SweTree is one of the Industrial Partners that also participate in educating students. 

IMG 2005                                             
PhD st
udents gathering infront of the SweTree facility located at SLU in Umeå (Photo: R. Garcia-Gil).

Thesis defense: Ainhoa Calleja-Rodriguez 29th May, 2019

Thesis defense: Ainhoa Calleja-Rodriguez 

Thesis title: Quantitative Genetics and Genomic Selection of Scots Pine

Date: 2019-05-29, 09:00, P-O Bäckströms sal (SLU Umeå)

Opponent: Dr Heidi Dungey, Senior Scientist and Science Leader of Forest Genetics, Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute

Thesis defense: Julia Christa Haas, 14th December 2018

Thesis defense: Julia Christa Haas
 Thesis title: Abiotic stress and plant microbe interaction in Norway spruce.
Swedish title: Abiotisk stress och interaktioner mellan växter och mikroorganismer i gran.

Date: 2018-12-14, 10:00 AM, KBC-huset, Stora hörsalen KB.E3.03 


Jennifer Baltzer, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Forest and Global Change Department of Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada.


2018 Annual Meeting of the New Industrial Graduate Research School in Forest Genetics, Biotechnology and Breeding

The 2018 annual meeting of the Research School was taking place in Sävar, at the facilities of the Forestry Research Institute, Skogforsk. Skogforsk is the cetnral research body of the Swedish forestry sector and one of the industrial partners of the research school. Beside visiting Skogforsk research facilities members of the Research School also visited the Norra Timber sawmill in Sävar. The Norra Timber sawmill has the world´s first CT Log (Computed Tomography) integrated into the saw line.

As part of the annual meeting members of the research school were guided around the facilities of Skogforsk
in Sävar and visited the
NorraTimber sawmill in Sävar (Photo: R. Garcia-Gil).

Read more: 2018 Annual Meeting of the New Industrial Graduate Research School in Forest Genetics,...

Thesis defense: Johanna Carlsson, 28th September 2018

Title: Nitrogen uptake and assimilation during Norway spruce somatic embryogenesis-investigating the role of glutamine

Opponent: Professor Francisco M Cánovas, Department de Biologia Molecular y Bioquimica, Facultad de Ciencias, Campus Universiatrio de Teatinos, Universidad de Málaga, Spain
Supervisor: Ulrika Egertsdotter


Visit to the facilities of Svenska Skogsplantor AG in Lagan, 17th - 18th November 2016

The seed production facility of the Svenska Skogsplantor AG in Lagan is the biggest seedproducer in Sweden. It produces about 60% of the domestically used seeds. Members of the Research School visited the facility and got the possiblity to look at all the different steps of seed production. 

Lagan - 1 Meeting.jpgLagan - 21 visiting Skogsplantor seed processing.jpgLagan - 3 visiting Skogsplantor seed orchard.jpg  
Members of the research school infront of the seed extraction facility (left), in the seed extraction facility (middle) and visiting the seed orchard (right).

2015 Annual Meeting of the New Industrial Graduate Research School in Forest Genetics, Botehchnology and Breeding, Falun

On the 27th and 28th of October 2015 the Research School had its annual meeting at the headquaters of Stora Enso in Falun, Sweden. Stora Enso is one of the industrial partners of the research school and is actively taking part in the education of PhD students. Included in the two days program was a visit at the Falun Copper mine.

The members of the Research School were not only visiting the Stora Enso headquarters but also invited to a guided tour at the World Heritage site
of the Falun Copper Mine.