Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 415–424 | Cite as

Genetics of wood quality attributes in Western Larch

  • Blaise Ratcliffe
  • Foster J. Hart
  • Jaroslav Klápště
  • Barry Jaquish
  • Shawn D. Mansfield
  • Yousry A. El-KassabyEmail author
Original Paper



Wood quality traits are important to balance the negative decline of wood quality associated with selection for growth attributes in gymnosperm breeding programs. Obtaining wood quality estimates quickly is crucial for successful incorporation in breeding programs.


The aims of this paper are to: (1) Estimate genetic and phenotypic correlations between growth and wood quality attributes, (2) Estimate heritability of the studied traits, and (3) Assess the accuracy of in situ non-destructive tools as a representative of actual wood density.


Wood density (X-ray densitometry), tree height, diameter, volume, resistance drilling, acoustic velocity, and dynamic modulus of elasticity were estimated, along with their genetic parameters, for 1,200, 20-year-old trees from 25 open-pollinated families.


Individual tree level heritabilities for non-destructive evaluation attributes were moderate (\( {\widehat{h}}_i^2=0.37-0.42 \)), wood density and growth traits were lower (\( {\widehat{h}}_i^2=0.23-0.35 \)). Favorable genetic and phenotypic correlations between growth traits, wood density, and non-destructive evaluation traits were observed. A perfect genetic correlation was found between resistance drilling and wood density (rG = 1.00 ± 0.07), while acoustic velocity and dynamic modulus of elasticity showed weaker genetic correlations with wood density (rG = 0.25 ± 0.24; 0.46 ± 0.21, respectively).


This study confirmed that resistance drilling is a reliable predictor of wood density in western larch, while the weak genetic correlations displayed by acoustic velocity and dynamic modulus of elasticity suggest limited dependability for their use as fast in situ wood density assessment methods in this species.


Western larch In situ wood quality assessment Wood density Modulus of elasticity X-ray densitometry Genetic correlation Heritability 



We thank the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for access to the progeny testing trials and providing valuable phenotypic data.


This work is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Discovery Grants to SDM and YAE and NSERC-IRC to YAE.


  1. Andrews M (2002) Wood quality measurement—son et lumière. NZ J For 47:19–21Google Scholar
  2. Auty D, Achim A (2008) The relationship between standing tree acoustic assessment and timber quality in Scots pine and the practical implications for assessing timber quality from naturally regenerated stands. Forestry 81:475–487. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bastian M, Heymann S, Jacomy M (2009) Gephi: open source software for exploring and manipulating networks. International AAAI Conference Weblogs Social Media []
  4. Blondel VD, Guillaume JL, Lambiotte R, Lefebvre E (2008) Fast unfolding of communities in large networks. J Stat Mech 2008:P10008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bouffier L, Charlot C, Raffin A, Rozenberg P, Kremer A (2008) Can wood density be efficiently selected at early stage in maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.)? Ann For Sci. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bucur V (2006) Acoustics of wood, 2nd edn. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  7. Burton PJ (2010) Striving for sustainability and resilience in the face of unprecedented change: the case of the Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak in British Columbia. Sustainability 2:2403–2423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlson CE, Byler JW, Dewey JE (1995) Western larch: pest tolerant conifer of the Northern Rocky Mountains. In: Schmidt WC, McDonald KJ (eds) Ecology and management of Larix forests: A look ahead. U.S. Dep Agric For Serv, Intermtn Res Sta, Ogden, UT. Gen Tech Rep GTR-INT-319 pp 123-129Google Scholar
  9. Cave ID, Walker JCF (1994) Stiffness of wood in fast grown plantation softwoods: the influence of microfibril angle. For Prod J 44:43–48Google Scholar
  10. Chantre G, Rozenberg P (1997) Can drill resistance profiles (Resistograph) lead to within-profile and within-ring density parameters in Douglas fir wood? In: Zhang SY, Gosselin R, Chauret G (eds) Proc. CTIA-I UFRO In ter. Wood Quality Workshop: Timber management toward wood quality and end-product values. Forintek Canada, Sainte-Foy, pp 41-47Google Scholar
  11. Cherry ML, Vikram V, Briggs D, Cress DW, Howe GT (2008) Genetic variation in direct and indirect measures of wood stiffness in coastal Douglas-fir. Can J For Res 38:2476–2486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cornelius J (1994) Heritabilities and additive genetic coefficients of variation in forest trees. Can J For Res 24:372–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eckard JT, Isik F, Bullock B, Li B, Gumpertz M (2010) Selection efficiency for solid wood traits in Pinus taeda using time-of-flight acoustic and micro-drill resistance methods. For Sci 56:233–241Google Scholar
  14. El-Kassaby YA, Jaquish B (1996) Population density and mating pattern in Western Larch. J Hered 87:438–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. El-Kassaby Y, Mansfield S, Isik F, Stoehr M (2011) In situ wood quality assessment in Douglas-fir. Tree Genet Genomes 7:553–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Evans R, Stringer S, Kibblewhite RP (2000) Variation of microfibril angle, density and fibre orientation in twenty-nine Eucalyptus nitens trees. Appita J 53:450–457Google Scholar
  17. Falconer DS, MacKay TFC (1996) Introduction to quantitative genetics, 4th edn. Longman Scientific & Technical, Burnt Mill, HarlowGoogle Scholar
  18. Farmer JRRE, O’Reilly G, Shaotang D (1993) Genetic variation in juvenile growth of Tamarack (Larix laricina) in northwestern Ontario. Can J Res 23:1852–1862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fins L, Rust M (1989) Heritability and genetic gain in western larch. In: Fins L (ed) Inland empire tree improvement cooperative, 13th progress report. University of Idaho Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, Moscow, Idaho, pp 46–51Google Scholar
  20. Fujimoto T, Akutsu H, Nei M, Kita K, Kuromaru M, Oda K (2006) Genetic variation in wood stiffness and strength properties of hybrid larch (Larix gmelinii var. japonica × L. kaempferi). J For Res 32:343–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gantz CH (2002) Evaluating the efficiency of the Resistograph to estimate genetic parameters for wood density in two softwood and two hardwood species. Dissertation, College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  22. Gao S, Wang X, Wang L, Allison RB (2013) Effect of temperature on acoustic evaluation of standing trees and logs: part 2—field investigation. Wood Fiber Sci 45:15–25Google Scholar
  23. Gerhards CC (1982) Longitudinal stress waves for lumber stress grading: factors affecting applications: state of the art. For Prod J 32:20–25Google Scholar
  24. Gilmour AR, Cullis BR, Welham SI, Thompson R (2002) ASReml reference manual. NSW Agriculture Biometrical Bulletin 3Google Scholar
  25. Gray JD, Grushecky ST, Armstrong JP (2008) Stress wave velocity and dynamic modulus of elasticity of yellow-poplar ranging from 100 % to 10 % moisture content. In: Jacobs, DF, Michler CH (eds) Proceedings, 16th central hardwood forest conference Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. Gen Tech Rep NRS-P-24 pp 139-142Google Scholar
  26. Gwaze D, Stevenson A (2008) Genetic variation of wood density and its relationship with drill resistance in shortleaf pine. South J Appl For 32:130–133Google Scholar
  27. Isik F, Li B (2003) Rapid assessment of wood density of live trees using Resistograph for selection in tree improvement programs. Can J For Res 33:2426–2435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jacques D, Marchal M, Curnel Y (2004) Relative efficiency of alternative methods to evaluate wood stiffness in the frame of hybrid larch (Larix × eurolepis Henry) clonal selection. Ann For Sci 61:35–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jaquish B, Howe G, Fins L, and Rust M (1995) Western larch tree improvement programs in the inland empire and British Columbia. In: Schmidt WC, McDonald KJ (eds) Ecology and management of Larix forests: A look ahead. U.S. Dep Agric For Serv, Intermtn Res Sta, Ogden, UT. Gen Tech Rep GTR-INT-319 pp 452-460Google Scholar
  30. Jordan L, Clark A III, Schimleck LR, Hall DB, Daniels RF (2008) Regional variation in wood specific gravity of planted loblolly pine in the United States. Can J For Res 38:698–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jozsa LA, Sen P (1992) Yellow-cypress wood quality. Report prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Project No. 1212K022: Forintek Canada Corp., Vancouver. BC. 31ppGoogle Scholar
  32. Kellogg RM (1982) Coming to grips with wood quality. For Chron 58:254–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kennedy SG, Cameron AD, Lee SJ (2013) Genetic relationships between wood quality traits and diameter growth of juvenile core wood in Sitka spruce. Can J Res 43:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leech SM, Almuedo PL, O’Neill G (2011) Assisted migration: adapting forest management to a changing climate. BC J Ecosyst Manag 12:18–34Google Scholar
  35. Lenz P, Auty D, Achim A, Beaulieu J, Mackay J (2013) Genetic improvement of white spruce mechanical wood traits—early screening by means of acoustic velocity. Forests 4:575–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lin CJ, Wang SY, Lin FC, Chiu CM (2003) Effect of moisture content on the drill resistance value in Taiwania plantation wood. Wood Fiber Sci 35:234–238Google Scholar
  37. Lindström H, Harris P, Sorensson CT, Evans R (2004) Stiffness and wood variation of 3-year old Pinus radiata clones. Wood Sci Technol 38:579–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lynch M, Walsh B (1998) Genetics and analysis of quantitative traits. Sinauer, Sunderland, MassGoogle Scholar
  39. Miles PD, Smith WB (2009) Specific gravity and other properties of wood and bark for 156 tree species found in North America. U.S. Dep Agric For Serv Res Note NRS-38, Newtown Square, PAGoogle Scholar
  40. Millman M (1976) Metric volume and V-bar tables derived from BCFC whole stem cubic metre volume equations. Vancouver, BCGoogle Scholar
  41. Mullins EJ, McKnight TS (1981) Canadian woods: their properties and uses, 3rd edn. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  42. Namkoong G (1966) Inbreeding effects on estimation of genetic additive variance. Forest Sci 12:8–13Google Scholar
  43. Pâques LE, Millier F, Rozenberg P (2010) Selection perspectives for genetic improvement of wood stiffness in hybrid larch (Larix × eurolepis Henry). Tree Genet Genomes 6:83–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Park YS, Fowler DP (1987) Genetic variances among clonally propagated populations of tamarack and the implications for clonal forestry. Can J For Res 17:1175–1180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pellerin R, Ross RJ (2002) Nondestructive evaluation of wood. Forest Products Society, Madison, WisconsinGoogle Scholar
  46. Perron M, DeBlois J, Desponts M (2013) Use of resampling to assess optimal subgroup composition for estimating genetic parameters from progeny trials. Tree Genet Genomes 9:129–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rehfeldt GE (1992) Breeding strategies for Larix occidentalis: adaptations to the biotic and abiotic environment in relation to improving growth. Can J For Res 22:5–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rehfeldt GE, Jaquish BC (2010) Ecological impacts and management strategies for western larch in the face of climate change. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 15:283–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rinn F, Scheweingruber FH, Schar E (1996) Resistograph and X-ray density charts of wood comparative evaluation of drill resistance profiles and X-ray density charts of different wood species. Holzforschung 50:303–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sandoz JL (1993) Moisture content and temperature effect on ultrasound timber grading. Wood Sci Technol 27:373–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schmidt WC and Shearer RC (1995) Larix occidentalis: a pioneer of the North American West. In: Schmidt WC, McDonald KJ (eds.) Ecology and management of Larix forests: A look ahead U.S. Dep Agric For Serv, Intermtn Res Sta, Ogden, UT. Gen Tech Rep GTR-INT-319pp 33-37Google Scholar
  52. Schmidt WC, Shearer EC, Roe AL (1976) Ecology and silviculture of western larch forests. U.S. Dep Agric Tech Bull 1520Google Scholar
  53. Stonecypher RW, Piesch RF, Helland GG, Chapman JG, Reno HJ (1996) Results from test of selected parents of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) in an applied tree improvement program. Sci Monogr 32:35Google Scholar
  54. Summitt R, Sliker A (1980) CRC Handbook of materials science, IV: wood. CRC, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  55. Ukrainetz NK, O’Neill GA (2010) An analysis of sensitivities contributing measurement error to Resistograph values. Can J For Res 40:806–811CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ukrainetz NK, Kang K-Y, Aitken SN, Stoehr M, Mansfield SD (2008) Heritability, phenotypic and genetic correlations of coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) wood quality traits. Can J For Res 38:1536–1546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wang X, Ross RJ, McClellan M, Barbour RJ, Erickson JR, Forsman JW, McGinnis GD (2000) Strength and stiffness assessment of standing trees using a nondestructive stress wave technique. Res Pap FPL-RP-585. U.S. Dep Agric For Serv, For Prod Lab, Madison, WI, p 11Google Scholar
  58. White TL, Adams WT, Neale DB (2007) Forest genetics. CABI, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wiemann MC (2010) Chapter 02: Characteristic and Availability of Commercially Important Woods. In: Ross RJ (ed) Wood Handbook. Gen Tech Rep FPL-GTR-190. US Dep Agric For Serv, For Prod Lab, Madison, WI, pp 2.1–2.45Google Scholar
  60. Wilkes J (1989) Variation in wood density of Pinus radiata in New South Wales, Australia. Can J Res 19:289–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Woods J (2011) Forest genetics council of bc business plan 2010–2011. Forest Genetics Council of BC, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  62. Zobel BJ, Jett JB (1995) Genetics of wood production. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zobel BJ, van Buijtenen JP (1989) Wood variation. Its causes and control. Springer, HeidelbergCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blaise Ratcliffe
    • 1
  • Foster J. Hart
    • 2
  • Jaroslav Klápště
    • 1
    • 4
  • Barry Jaquish
    • 3
  • Shawn D. Mansfield
    • 2
  • Yousry A. El-Kassaby
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of ForestryThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Wood Science, Faculty of ForestryThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Tree Improvement BranchKalamalka Research Station and Seed OrchardVernonCanada
  4. 4.Department of Dendrology and Forest Tree Breeding, Faculty of Forestry and Wood SciencesCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePraha 6Czech Republic

Personalised recommendations