Tree Genetics & Genomes

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 179–193 | Cite as

Age trends in genetic parameters for growth and wood density in Eucalyptus globulus

  • Desmond J. StackpoleEmail author
  • René E. Vaillancourt
  • Marcelo de Aguigar
  • Brad M. Potts
Original Paper


Genetic parameters for stem diameter and wood density were compared at selection (4–5 years) and harvest (16–17 years) age in an open-pollinated progeny trial of Eucalyptus globulus in Tasmania (Australia). The study examined 514 families collected from 17 subraces of E. globulus. Wood density was assessed on a subsample of trees indirectly using pilodyn penetration at both ages and directly by core basic density at harvest age. Significant additive genetic variance and narrow-sense heritabilities (\( h_{\text{op}}^2 \)) were detected for all traits. Univariate and multivariate estimates of heritabilities were similar for each trait except harvest-age diameter. Comparable univariate estimates of selection- and harvest-age heritabilities for diameter masked changes in genetic architecture that occurred with stand development, whereby the loss of additive genetic variance through size-dependent mortality was countered by the accentuation of additive genetic differences among survivors with age. Regardless, the additive genetic (r a) and subrace (r s) correlations across ages were generally high for diameter (0.95 and 0.61, respectively) and pilodyn penetration (0.77 and 0.96), as were the correlations of harvest-age core basic density with selection- and harvest-age pilodyn (r a −0.83, −0.88; r s −0.96, −0.83). While r s between diameter and pilodyn were close to zero at both ages, there was a significant change in r a from adverse at selection age (0.25) to close to zero (−0.07) at harvest age. We argue that this change in the genetic correlation reflects a decoupling of the genetic association of growth and wood density with age. This result highlights the need to validate the use of selection-age genetic parameters for predicting harvest-age breeding values.


Genetic correlation Density Eucalyptus globulus 



We thank Kelsey Joyce, Mark Reynolds, Linda Ballard, and Paul Tilyard for their assistance; the CRC for Forestry and the Australian Research Council and partners on Linkage grant LP0453704 for support; and Gunns Ltd for access to the field trial.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Desmond J. Stackpole
    • 1
    Email author
  • René E. Vaillancourt
    • 1
  • Marcelo de Aguigar
    • 2
  • Brad M. Potts
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Plant Sciences and Cooperative Research Centre for ForestryUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Melhoramento de Plantas EpagriEmpresa de Pesquisa Agropecuária e Extensão Rural de Santa Catarina Estação Experimental de ItuporangaItuporangaBrazil

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