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Discussion Paper: Constraints on Tree Breeding: Growth Tradeoffs, Growth Strategies, and Defensive Investments

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Analysis of basic growth processes and between-species trait correlations suggests that because of growth tradeoffs, breeding for growth rate (volume increment) may adversely affect defensive and other properties of trees. This can lead to negative impacts on sawtimber quality and tree lifespan. Selection for yield and for pathogen resistance may conflict, separate breeding programs may be needed for pulp and saw-timber purposes, and older ages may be more appropriate for selection of plus trees. In order for breeders to consider consequences of selection on tree performance, a means is required of assessing potential adult pathogen resistance and lifespan. Four methods are proposed for accomplishing this using properties of young trees. The properties of young trees that may correlate with adult performance are (1) wood properties related to defense, (2) wound healing ability, (3) the allometric growth coefficient, and (4) age of sexual maturity. For. Sci. 33(4):1089-1097.

Keywords: Tree breeding; indirect selection; juvenile-mature correlations; longevity; pathogens; wood properties

Document Type: Discussion

Affiliations: Pioneer Research Geneticist with USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station

Publication date: December 1, 1987

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