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Genotypic variation in natural infection frequency of Heterobasidion spp. in a Picea abies clone trial in southern Sweden

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Natural root and butt rot infection with Heterobasidion spp. was recorded on three occasions in trees from a 20-year-old Norway spruce [ Picea abies (L.) Karst.] clone trial. In the first assessment, carried out when the trial had been running for 15 years, 29.5% of the trees felled were infected with Heterobasidion spp., but no statistically significant differences were found between the different clones. In the second assessment, also at 15 years, bore cores were taken from 595 trees. Of these cores, 16.5% were infected, but again no statistically significant differences were found between the different clones. Combining the two first assessments also revealed no significant differences. The discrepancy in rot incidence between the two assessments was explained by the inaccuracy of the bore core method. The third assessment was carried out after the trial had been running for 20 years. At that time, 424 trees of 50 clones were felled and sampled. Visible infection was recorded in 46.5% of the trees. The differences between clones were statistically significant and the broad-sense heritability estimate was 0.18. There were no significant genotypic correlations between tree size and rot infection; this is important for the Norway spruce breeding strategy. Calculations show that economic viability would increase by 0.28 SEK per plant for every 10% decrease in root rot frequency at final felling.

Keywords: Economic gain; Heterobasidion; Norway spruce; Picea abies; genetic variation; natural infection

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Ekebo, Sweden 2: The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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