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Genotype by environment interactions for Pinus radiata in New South Wales, Australia

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Historical data from 26 progeny trials in the NSW breeding program was analyzed to determine the extent and practical importance of genotype by environment (G×E) interactions for a range of traits. Significant G×E interaction was present for diameter (DBH) with 75% of the 35 estimated between-site genetic correlations falling below the threshold value of 0.6 where regionalization should be considered. Estimated genetic correlations for stem straightness, branch quality, and outerwood density were much higher, indicating these traits are not as affected by G×E. Levels of G×E for DBH are sufficient to have serious impacts on the expression of genetic gain in deployed material. For DBH, altitude differences between sites appear to be the key factor driving the G×E with a difference of greater than 280 m in altitude leading to a breakdown in correlations. Two groups of sites were identified as having limited G×E within each group: one for sites above 900 m elevation plus a lower-altitude group. Sites included in the higher-altitude group were located across the entire north–south geographic range of NSW. Equations for prediction of site mean DBH indicate that altitude, prior land use, and underlying geology are key driving variables. A more complex model was developed for predicting the between-site genetic correlations for DBH with the model accounting for approximately 50% of the observed variation.

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The author would like to thank the many people involved in the NSW tree breeding program over the past 50 years, especially Ian Johnson and Ian Cotterill who were largely responsible for developing and implementing the program. Special thanks also to the hardworking field staff from Forests NSW who established, maintained, and measured the many trials including Ian Hides, David Bell, Brian Fisher, Kevin Dodds, Mike Catherall, Stuart Lefevre, Des Gibbons, and Merv Butler. Other Forests NSW research staff involved in the tree breeding program over the years included Peter Ades (now at Melbourne University) and Hans Porada.

A special thank you goes to Michael Henson for initiating the current project and ensuring that funding from the Radiata Pine Breeding Company was made available for a sufficient period to enable a detailed analysis of the historical data.

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Correspondence to Carolyn A. Raymond.

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Communicated by R. Burdon

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Raymond, C.A. Genotype by environment interactions for Pinus radiata in New South Wales, Australia. Tree Genetics & Genomes 7, 819–833 (2011).

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