Key message New genotypes of hybrid poplars from the Aigeiros and Tacamahaca sections have great potential for increasing genetic gain from selection. The most promising traits are associated with productivity and resistance to Sphaerulina musiva -induced canker while wood density can be selected for secondarily. A minimum age of 8 years is reliable to select fast-growing resistant clones in northern climates.
Context Productivity, wood density, and disease resistance of hybrid poplar clones are important traits when selecting for cultivation at an industrial scale.
Aims We studied 1978 hybrid poplar clones from 63 families, bred from poplars native (Populus balsamifera and Populus deltoides) and non-native to Canada from the Aigeiros and Tacamahaca sections, to improve economically important traits for plantations in northern Alberta.
Methods Genetic parameters for diameter at breast height (DBH), height, resistance to Sphaerulina musiva-induced canker, and wood density were determined up to age 10.
Results A mean annual increment of 16.5 m3 ha−1 year−1 was achieved at age 10 in the best-performing clones. The potential genetic gain for DBH, height, and canker resistance, 37%, 26%, and ~ 13%, respectively, was achieved when selecting the top 10% of the tested clones. The genetic effect for wood density was weak. The age-age genetic correlations identified age eight as a reliable selection age.
Conclusion The new hybrid poplar clones tested exhibited great potential for tree improvement. The next phase of selection should test a reduced number of clones on different site types, identifying stable clones for productivity and resistance, while wood density can be selected for secondarily. In northern regions, a minimum age of 8 years is reliable to select fast-growing resistant clones for commercial deployment.
Tree breeding, Poplars, Age-age genetic correlation, Heritability, Sphaerulina musiva-induced canker, Wood density
Niemczyk, M., Thomas, B.R. Growth parameters and resistance to Sphaerulina musiva-induced canker are more important than wood density for increasing genetic gain from selection of Populus spp. hybrids for northern climates. Annals of Forest Science 77, 26 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-0931-y
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in a public repository (Niemczyk and Thomas 2020) which can be accessed online. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3627992