Develop breeding objective for Scots pine

Hur värderar vi bäst olika egenskaper ekonomiskt när de vägs samman vid förädling?

A selection index approach of multiple traits is used for current breeding selection for Scots pine. To be able to compare different traits they have to be transformed to a common monitory unite like SEK by using economic weights. However, economic weights for improving the multiple traits at rotation age have not been properly defined using the existing production systems (solid wood, pulp and paper, and energy production systems) of the two species. For Lodgepole pine, improvement of wood stiffness and other wood quality traits along with growth and vitality is also important. Through the development of breeding objective for these products, bio-economic model or profit function will be developed to estimate economic weights for different production systems and genetic variance and covariance from early selection to harvest traits including wood quality traits are estimated. There are now suitable progeny trials available for Scots pine with tree sizes suitable for construction wood studies. These can be used for a great number of investigations of which some has started.

Host company: Skogforsk

PhD student: Irena Fundova
Harry Wu (Main supervisor),
Gunnar Jansson, Bengt Andersson Gull (Industry supervisor)

Genomic selection in tree breeding program

Hur kan vi utveckla nya förädlingsverktyg för att integrera alla de datamängder som kommer från de nya gran och tall-genomprojekten med existerande förädlingsprogram.

Candidate gene and genome-wide association of DNA markers with phenotypic traits has made the dissection of phenotypic variation into genotypic variation possible in trees. Current development of SNP chip in whole genome sequencing and re-sequencing projects is a first step towards developing efficient DNA marker system in pine and spruce for large scale association analyses. It is envisioned that genome-wide association could cover a large portion of genetic variation for quantitative traits. Genomic selection method has advanced greatly in animal breeding program recently. With the completion of whole genome sequencing and re-sequencing of spruce and pines, genomic selection could be a reality in tree with increased efficiency of early selection. However, specific method dealing with low linkage disequilibrium and large effective population number in the tree breeding population need to be developed for effective genome-wide selection including efficient design of experiment for tree species to accurately estimate allelic effects. We will examine how the size and structure of population, experiment design, mating structure and density of markers in tree species affected the accuracy of candidate and genome-wide association studies. Adequate tools will be developed for integration of genomics with practical breeding program. This could involve development of integration strategy, estimation of genomic breeding values, and use of genomic information in designing breeding strategy.

Host Company: Skogforsk

PhD student: Ainhoa Calleja-Rodriguez
Supervisors: Harry Wu (Main supervisor),
Pär Ingvarsson, Rosario Garcia Gil, Fikret Isik, Sara Abrahamsson (Industry supervisor)

Presentation from the 2nd general meeting

Optimization of seedling growth in nursery

Hur kan vi optimera tillväxten av barrträdsplantor i en modern planta plantskola?

Efficient production of conifer seedlings is based on rapid growth, driven by high rates of fertilizer application. However, following planting in the field seedlings must cope with various forms of biotic and abiotic stresses and the cultivation practices may not be optimal for seedlings to meet these stresses. The major stresses experienced by recently planted conifer seedlings include drought and herbivory, and the morphology and biochemical composition of the seedlings are important determinants for how they cope with these events. We suggest that the relative rates of acquisition of carbon and nitrogen will determine the internal balance of C and N in seedlings, which in turn will shape seedling morphology and biochemistry. This project will thus focus on the fundamental processes of C and N acquisition in conifer seedlings, with the goal of establishing new cultivation practices for large-scale seedling production.

Host Company: Holmen Skog

PhD student: Julia Haas
Supervisors: Torgny Näsholm (Main supervisor),
Vaughan Hurry, Nathaniel Street, Erik Normark (Industry Supervisor)

Regulation of embryo development in Norway spruce (Picea abies)

Vilka faktorer reglerar utvecklingen av granembryon fram till plantbildning? Vi använder somatisk embryogenes (SE) som ett modellsystem för att lära oss mer om hur embryoutvecklingen regleras av yttre faktorer som tillgång på kväve. Med denna kunskap kan vi också förbättra SE-processen för plantproduktion inom skogsbruket.

The development of embryos and early plant development is not well known in conifers. We are using somatic embryogenesis as a model system to study the details of the developmental process, from early stage embryos to plants. In particular, we are interested in what different nitrogen sources are required during the developmental process, and how the different sources may affect development into a normal plant.  The results from the project can have direct implications for the industrial  process of Norway spruce plant production by somatic embryogenesis supported by Sveaskog together with other Swedish forestry companies.

Host Company: Sveaskog Förvaltnings AB

PhD student: Johanna Carlsson
Supervisors: Ulrika Egertsdotter,

Finnvid Prescher (Industry supervisor)

Presentation from the 2nd general meeting

The genetic basis of heterosis in hybrids

Vad är den genetiska bakgrunden till trädhybriders dramatiskt ökade tillväxt? Hur kan denna kunskap användas för att optimera eukalyptushybriders produktivitet?

Heterosis or increased fitness of offspring resulting from hybridization is a well-known phenomenon. There are several theories as to why heterosis arises, for example, harmful alleles are masked in the hybrids. However, there was relatively a few numbers of studies that looked at the genetic basis of heterosis. This project intends to study the genetic basis of hetero-in hybrid using materials available in the breeding program for eucalyptus hybrids in forest research. Parents as well as large number hybrid genotypes are still available and are already evaluated for a large variety of properties such as growth. These individuals will be genome sequenced and analyzed to map the genetic basis of heterosis.

Host Company: Stora Enso Skog

PhD student: Biyue Tan
Supervisors: Pär Ingvarsson,
Harry Wu and Björn Sundberg (Industry Supervisor)

Presentation from the 2nd general meeting

Cellulose biosynthesis and targeted fiber modification

Hur kan vi styra geners aktivitet i de vedbildande delarna av trädet utan att påverka övriga delar av trädets tillväxt negativt? Viktig applikation för framtida planteringar av bioteknikträd där cellulosan och andra vedegenskaper har modifierats.

This project aims to produce tools to practically implement biotechnology for major wood modification in forest plantations and generate knowledge for modifying cellulose in wood. Practical biotechnology in forest plantation may focus on modifying wood to decrease energy required for wood pre-treatments, decrease wood recalcitrance, avoid inhomogeneous wood by removing G-layers in tension wood, and drastically alter wood polymer composition for specific uses. An unsolved practical problem with this approach is that large modification has aberrant effects on tree survival. The research aims to identify, evaluate and practically test promoters that can be used for major modifications of wood while still maintaining a healthy tree. We aim to shed more light on the machinery of cellulose biosynthesis, with the idea to produce highly modified wood. This will require specific promoters since evaluating the function of key proteins will otherwise be lethal. Chemistry, fibre mechanics and wood processing properties will be assessed. This approach could highly affect recalcitrance and the mechanical properties (thus the energy required for wood pre-treatment).

Host Company: Stora Enso Skog

PhD student: Christoffer Johnsson
Supervisors: Urs Fischer (Main supervisor),
Björn Sundberg (Industry supervisor)

Next-generation sequencing approaches to assess genomic diversity within managed spruce stands and gene flow between planted stands and natural forest

Hur påverkar olika skogsskötsel och föryngringsmetoder den genetiska variationen i skogen, och hur stor är den genetiska variationen som kan förklara anpassningen till olika miljöer/breddgrader?

This project will examine effect of reforestation on genetic diversity using next generation sequencing to profile genomic diversity within forest stands under contrasting management strategies. The project will also study adaptation of local population to current and future climates. To understand the relationship between tree diversity and local environment, a provenance trial comprising 30 Norway spruce representing a latitudinal cline from 61°62'N in the south to 66°82'N in the north will be used to profile genetic variation. The baseline information gleaned from this project may ultimately prove important for optimizing forest productivity within a changing climate.
Another interesting question is about long term gene migration between planted stands and natural forest set asides. Do improved stands damage the nature? There is need for a new research field looking at long term consequences of large scale use of successively more highly improver trees. A potential risk associated with the use of exotic cultivars, and more recently with genetically modified trees (GMOs), is gene exchange with native species. This project will develop and employ species-specific molecular markers (SNPs) to estimate the rate of gene exchange between plantations of exotic aspens (both pure species and hybrids) and natural forest stands. Estimates of gene flow will be used in computer simulations to assess potential impacts of exotic cultivars and genetically-modified trees on Sweden's native stands, with direct applications to the sustainable use of forest resources.

Host Company: Bergvik Skog AB

PhD student: Alexis Sullivan
Supervisors: Xiao-Ru Wang (Main Supervisor),
Nathaniel Street, Åke Granqvist (Industry supervisor)

Selection for adaptability and optimal seed transfer for Norway spruce under climate change

Hur förädlar vi på bästa sätt fram nytt plantmaterial anpassat för framtida klimatförändringar och hur använder vi bäst befintliga förädlade frökällor?

Climate change will require forest regeneration material adapted to a different range of conditions than those existing today. The aim of this project is to develop norms of reaction models to describe the amount and pattern of genotype by environment interaction in a climate change context. The models will be used for selection of individuals in tree breeding or for mass propagation showing a high and stable performance in a broad range of environments with different climatic conditions. At population level, we will develop the best use of improved seedlings and delineating seed utilization zones over general climate gradients. It is also of interest for G x E interaction on individual tree or family level for site specific effects like frost prone and not frost prone sites. Part of the project will involve artificial climate experiments using greenhouses etc. to study the annual growth cycle in response to climate. Part of the project will involve mega-data analyses of population with environment interaction for Norway spruce using variables describing the climate based on meteorological data used in climate scenario research and variables that describe the site.

Host Company: Bergvik Skog AB

PhD student: Jenny Lundströmer
Supervisors: Johan Westin (Main Supervisor),
Mats Berlin, and Harry Wu, Oskar Skogström (Industry supervisor)