New Forests

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 439–448 | Cite as

Linking changes to breeding objectives and genetic evaluation to genetic gain in New Zealand

  • Luis A. Apiolaza


This article uses the breeder’s equation, which predicts genetic gain in breeding programs, to frame a general discussion on breeding objectives, new phenotypic techniques for selection criteria and statistical models as applied to short rotation species. Short-rotation breeding programs are increasingly working on wood quality traits; however, we keep on treating them as if they were growth traits. Understanding tree-level patterns of variation can lead to alternative strategies for evaluation, analysis and inclusion in breeding objectives; which I describe in a pilot application in Pinus radiata in New Zealand. Finally I discuss the relationship between the breeder’s equation and formulations of linear mixed models, using genotype by environment interaction as example, to show the interplay between genetic evaluation and breeding strategies. There is tension between increasing complexity (and the implicitly promised flexibility), information recovery (as more parameters are poorly estimated) and computational demands. The latter can be tackled through much more computer power (a never-ending endeavor), exploiting features of the problem or moving back to a lower complexity level.


Early screening Genetic evaluation Genotype by environment interaction Wood properties 



Many thanks to John Walker, Shakti Chauhan and Monika Sharma, present and past colleagues at the School of Forestry, for discussions on variability and assessment of wood properties. This work has been partly funded by the New Zealand FRST Compromised Wood (P2080) Program with participation of Forests New South Wales, Forest and Wood Products Australia, New Zealand Radiata Pine Breeding Company and Weyerhaeuser (USA). Many thanks to Gary Hodge and the co-organizers of the Breeding for Value in a Changing World conference (4–7 February 2013 in Jacksonville, FL) for their generous support. Many thanks to the editor for comments and seemingly infinite patience.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ForestryUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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