Student: Alisa Kravtsova

The future supply of biomass for the Swedish forest industry will come mostly from plantations, and seed orchards supply almost all the regeneration material used in plantation. Because of this fundamental role, all orchards should function well, producing high seed yield and breeding gain while also securing broad genetic base to support a greater forest production and resilience in future conditions. Among other issues, background pollination (also called pollen contamination) in seed orchards is a major concern for the deployment of orchard crops because contaminating pollen decrease breeding gain. How severe is the issue is not yet clear because the a few available studies on seed orchard mating systems revealed controversial results. On a different note, mating between differently adapted populations could result in increased phenotypic and genetic variance that might facilitate novel adaptation under increased climatic fluctuations. Consequently, the seed orchard practices in Sweden (e.g. transfer seed orchard southward for better seed crop yield) may positively affect species´ long-term adaptation and productivity in their northern range. This potential positive effect, however, has never been examined.

Our research activities on seed orchards aim at obtaining an overview on how orchard design, location and management practices could have affected the genetic function of each orchard and, thus, the crops´ potential for production gain and climate adaptation. We are particularly interested in assessing the following issues:

  • The regional and temporal variation in background pollen contamination in pine and spruce orchards.
  • The impact of orchard design and management practice on pedigree structure and genetic diversity of the orchard crops.
  • The differences in adaptive trait distribution and allele frequency distribution between subpopulations of orchard progenies with internal pollination and mating with external pollen, respectively.
  • The effect of assisted gene flow mediated by orchard crops on survival, growth and genetic composition in boreal forest.

Supervisor: Xiao-Ru Wang (UMU)
Co-supervisor David Hall (UMU)
Industry partner: Ulfstand Wennström (Skogforsk)