Balancing Breeding for Growth and Fecundity in Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) Breeding Programme
Evolutionary Applications 2020,

Wu HX, Ker R, Chen Z, Ivkovic M

Tree breeding has focused on increasing stem volume growth with a cost to fecundity. However, fecundity is important in maintaining the fitness in natural stands and facilitating cross‐pollination to advance breeding populations. Understanding the inheritance of fecundity and the genetic relationship between fecundity and growth is essential to understand the constraints of evolution in natural population and design an optimal selection strategy to balance breeding for growth and fecundity. Inheritance of female fecundity and the genetic relationship between fecundity and growth in radiata pine were investigated using a large Australia‐wide progeny test, planted on eight sites involving 279 control‐pollinated families. It was found that fecundity of female cones was highly heritable with an estimated heritability of 0.39–0.61, but genetically correlated with growth (−0.30 to −0.39). This indicates that improvement in tree growth alone could reduce the fecundity, thus to break the possible evolutionary constraint in natural population. To maintain fecundity for breeding purposes and minimize the interruption of the evolutionary constraint between fecundity and growth, use of a restraint selection index to impose no change of fecundity is developed in current breeding, while dissecting the genetic basis of adversely correlated traits at loci level is required for optimal long‐term strategy.

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