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Genetic information from progeny trials: a comparison between progenies generated by open pollination and by controlled crosses

Abstract

When conifer progenies generated by open pollination are assessed in field tests, it is usually assumed that all progenies of the same mother are true half-sibs. This assumption may be invalid, leading to overestimation of additive genetic variation and heritability and to biased breeding values. From one Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and one Norway spruce (Picea abies) seed orchard, containing 28 and 36 parent clones, respectively, progenies generated by open pollination (OP) and by controlled crosses (CC) were planted in adjacent trials at two to three sites in southern Sweden. The tree height and diameter at breast height were measured, and genetic parameters based on these traits were estimated for OP and CC progenies separately, in order to enable comparisons. Narrow-sense heritability estimates for Scots pine and Norway spruce OP progenies (in the ranges 0.04–0.13 and 0.15–0.38, respectively) did not differ significantly from CC estimates (0.07–0.12 and 0.23–0.30), suggesting that OP-based heritability values were not overestimated to any great extent. Similarly, genetic correlations between OP and CC progenies were in the ranges of 0.87–0.88 and 0.74–0.77 for Scots pine and Norway spruce, respectively, being significantly lower than unity only in the case of Norway spruce. OP-based breeding values for both species should therefore correspond well with those predicted from CC progenies, albeit not perfectly for Norway spruce. In conclusion, the assumption of true half-sibs for OP progenies was not violated to the extent that genetic parameter estimates or breeding value predictions were seriously biased.

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Acknowledgments

This study was financed by the Swedish Forest Tree Breeding Association, grant number 99 (2003). The authors also acknowledge the three anonymous reviewers who contributed to the improvement of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and that the experiments performed for this study comply with the current laws and regulations of the state of Sweden.

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Correspondence to Henrik R. Hallingbäck.

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Communicated by D. Neale

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Hallingbäck, H.R., Jansson, G. Genetic information from progeny trials: a comparison between progenies generated by open pollination and by controlled crosses. Tree Genetics & Genomes 9, 731–740 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-012-0588-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-012-0588-2

Keywords

  • Scots pine
  • Norway spruce
  • Coancestry
  • Genetic parameters
  • Open pollination
  • Controlled crossing