Genetic Selection Tools for Enhanced Wood Properties and Plantation Productivity in Australia’s Temperate Eucalypts (Blue Gum Genomics)
The Blue Gum Genomics project has discovered molecular markers in Eucalyptus nitens and Eucalyptus globulus that control high value wood and growth traits to enable the adoption of marker-assisted selection (MAS) by the Australian eucalypt plantation industry. The markers (single nucleotide polymorphic or SNPs) will allow breeders to select superior trees and seedlings that carry better versions of genes that influence commercial traits.
Approximately 1800 genes controlling wood traits were identified from samples extracted from high and low KPY (Kraft pulp yield) trees. The researchers identified the SNPs in these genes (in a sense the alleles of the gene) that had a much higher probability of being associated with greater pulp yield.
The markers can be used to predict traits in unrelated populations growing in different environments, and can be used to screen large numbers of seedlings to select the best ones for breeding, thereby drastically reducing the breeding cycle as well as the number of progeny testing trials.