Tree Genetics & Genomes

, 11:10 | Cite as

Genetic parameters and clone by environment interactions for growth and foliar nutrient concentrations in radiata pine on 14 widely diverse New Zealand sites

  • Yongjun Li
  • Jianming Xue
  • Peter W. Clinton
  • Heidi S. Dungey
Original Paper


Genetic variations and genotype by environment (G × E) interactions in growth and foliar traits were studied with 40 clones of radiata pine in a trial series on 14 sites across a range of environments in New Zealand. Total height was assessed at ages 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8 years from planting. Stem diameter was assessed as ground-level diameter at ages 1 and 3 years and diameter at breast height (DBH) at ages 5, 6 and 8 years. Fascicle weight, foliar nutrient concentrations, foliar carbon isotope composition and nitrogen isotope composition were assessed at age 5 years at seven sites. Significant genetic variation in these traits existed at most of the sites but with variable and incomplete consistency from site to site, indicating G × E interactions. Individual-tree clonal repeatability (cf. broad-sense heritability) of total height and stem diameter tended to increase with age. Furthermore, across-sites estimates of clonal repeatability of total height and stem diameter were lower than single-site estimates. Marked G × E interactions were observed in growth and foliar traits. The interaction levels for growth traits were significantly associated with site differences in soil nutrient levels of nitrogen and total phosphorus and annual mean temperature. The G × E interaction levels for two foliar traits calcium content and fascicle weight were significantly associated with the site difference of soil nutrient levels of magnesium and potassium, respectively. Foliar carbon isotope composition and carbon/nitrogen ratio showed moderate clonal repeatability and high genetic correlations with growth, suggesting that they could be used as selection traits for improving radiata pine growth rate.


Genetic variation Genotype by environment interaction Growth traits Foliar nutrient concentrations Fascicle weight Radiata pine 



We would like to thank all the forest companies involved in this work for providing the sites for this study. We acknowledge the valuable and hard work of many Scion colleagues for establishing and measuring the trials. Many thanks also go to Loretta Garrett for providing soil and climatic information and to Veritec laboratory staff for needle sample analyses. The project was funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology under contract C04X0304, ‘Protecting and Enhancing the Environment through Forestry’. We would like to express our gratitude to Rowland Burdon and anonymous reviewers for review and valuable suggestions and to Charlie Low for Scion internal review.

Data archiving statement

Data used in this manuscript has been uploaded into TreeGenes database with access number TGDR031 (

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongjun Li
    • 1
  • Jianming Xue
    • 2
  • Peter W. Clinton
    • 2
  • Heidi S. Dungey
    • 1
  1. 1.Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute)Rotorua 3046New Zealand
  2. 2.Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute)Christchurch 8540New Zealand

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