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Age trends of microfibril angle inheritance and their genetic and environmental correlations with growth, density and chemical properties in Eucalyptus urophylla S.T. Blake wood

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The genetic and environmental control of microfibril angle (MFA) and its genetic correlations with other wood and growth traits are still not well established in Eucalyptus sp.


To determine the narrow-sense heritability estimates (h 2) of MFA, wood density (D), Klason lignin (KL) content, syringyl to guaiacyl (S/G) ratio and growth traits, their variation from pith to cambium and their genetic correlations.


Heritability and correlations were assessed in 340 control-pollinated progenies of 14-year-Eucalyptus urophylla S.T. Blake using near infrared spectroscopic models.


Moderate to high heritability were found for MFA (h 2 = 0.43), D (h 2 = 0.61), S/G (h 2 = 0.71) and LK (h 2 = 0.76). The genetic control of D and MFA and the genetic and residual correlation between chemical and growth traits varied with age. The genetic correlation C × D was always strongly negative (r < −0.80) while the correlation D × MFA remained constant and positive in the juvenile wood (r = 0.7), before disappearing in the mature wood. These results could be explained by gene pleiotropic effect, low microfibril angle compensating for low wood density and fast growth or by linkage disequilibrium induced by sampling. Variations in MFA and KL in the mature wood were also genetically controlled.


These findings provide the opportunity for developing breeding strategies for pulpwood, fuelwood and sawntimber production in Eucalyptus sp.

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The authors would like to thank Arie van der Lee from the Institut Européen des Membranes for assistance with X-ray diffraction measurements; Dr. C Lapierre and her work team from INRA-Agro ParisTech for chemical analysis; N Ognouabi and E Villar from CRDPI (Republic of Congo) and the “Bureau des Ressources Génétiques” (BRG) project for providing material and funding; and especially Dr. JM Gion (coordinator of the BRG project “CCR gene in Eucalyptus: a model of functional variability in forest trees”) from CIRAD for providing technical support.


This study is a part of the project “CCR gene in Eucalyptus: a model of functional variability in forest trees” funded by the “Bureau des Ressources Génétiques” (BRG). The project was also funded by the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Development (CIRAD) in Montpellier, France. The first author was supported by the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq, Brazil—process no. 200970/2008-9) during his PhD thesis. He was also supported by the Alfa Gema Project (II-0266-FA) during his masteral studies.

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Correspondence to Paulo Ricardo Gherardi Hein.

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Handling Editor: Barry Alan Gardiner

Contribution of the co-authors

PRGH was responsible for performing the near infrared (NIR), X-ray diffraction analysis and wood measurements, for generating the phenotypic data set, analysing the results and the writing of the paper. This study is a part of his PhD thesis;

JMB was responsible for planning the experimental design and performing the statistical and all the genetic analysis. He co-writes the paper with PRGH.

EM wrote part of the Material and methods section.

PV was responsible for planning the experimental design and part of the preliminary analysis.

BC was responsible for performing the X-ray difractometry analysis at Univ. of Montpellier 2. He gave valuable insights to the study and he help to improve part of the discussions.

GC was responsible for planning the measurements and analysing the results. He’s co-supervisor of PRGH PhD. He provides comments and corrections to the text.

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Hein, P.R.G., Bouvet, JM., Mandrou, E. et al. Age trends of microfibril angle inheritance and their genetic and environmental correlations with growth, density and chemical properties in Eucalyptus urophylla S.T. Blake wood. Annals of Forest Science 69, 681–691 (2012).

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