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Pollen dispersal patterns and male reproductive success based on pedigree reconstruction in a hybrid larch (Larix gmelinii var. japonica × L. kaempferi) open-pollinated seed orchard


Pollen dispersal patterns and male reproductive success are crucial factors for seed orchard management. Information on pedigree reconstruction is also important for backward selection in selecting potential superior paternal clones in an open-pollinated seed orchard. The breeding without breeding (BwB) strategy has been shown to be helpful in avoiding expensive and laborious controlled mating, and in achieving genetic gain without making any artificial crosses. Although it is known that the efficiency of BwB depends on the scale of evaluated materials and the accuracy of paternity assignment, empirical data regarding the application of this strategy for various seed orchard designs are limited. In this study, we performed paternity analysis of 360 progenies derived from a 15-year-old hybrid larch test plantation (Larix gmelinii var. japonica × L. kaempferi), with candidate male parents (L. kaempferi) located within 50 m of 11 mother trees (L. gmelinii var. japonica) from an open-pollinated seed orchard. We then examined the pollen dispersal pattern within the seed orchard using molecular marker data and statistical modeling. We were able to assign 59 fathers to 57% of all progenies by paternity analysis using SSRs within a 50-m radius, and the mean distance of pollen dispersal was 42.2 m. We evaluated the performance of 17 paternal clones with at least four progenies based on the volume genetic gain of the progeny. As a result, the top two superior clones (average volume genetic gain: 32%) are expected to be candidates for producing new F1 cultivars.

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The authors would like to thank the staff of the University of Tokyo Hokkaido Forest, Drs. M. Kuromaru, K. Kita, H. Kon, K. Uchiyama, A. Narita, M. Ebina, and the staff of the Hokkaido Research Organization for their participation in sample collection and field measurements. We also thank Dr. K. Kitamura and members of the Chuo Agricultural Experiment Station, Agricultural Research Department, Hokkaido Research Organization, for help with the molecular analysis. Additionally, we would like to thank Dr. Y. Tsumura for helpful suggestions and Drs. A. Nakanishi and I. J. Chybicki for helpful comments on the analysis of pollen dispersal patterns.


This research was partly supported by research funding from the Sumitomo Forestry CO., LTD.

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Correspondence to Shufen Chen.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Communicated by L.A. Meisel

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Chen, S., Ishizuka, W., Unno, Y. et al. Pollen dispersal patterns and male reproductive success based on pedigree reconstruction in a hybrid larch (Larix gmelinii var. japonica × L. kaempferi) open-pollinated seed orchard. Tree Genetics & Genomes 18, 33 (2022).

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  • Breeding without breeding
  • Genetic gain
  • Hybrid breeding
  • Larix
  • Simple sequence repeat markers (SSRs)