Susceptibility of autochthonous German Fraxinus excelsior clones to Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus is genetically determined
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It might be possible to establish a new generation of Fraxinus excelsior which is insusceptible towards ash dieback (agent: Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus) by efficient breeding. However, a considerable number of highly tolerant individuals which have the ability to pass on this trait to their progeny are needed.
The aim of this study was to identify the potential of provenances from southwestern Germany as a source of future selection for resistance or resistance breeding.
In July 2012 and 2013, ash dieback severity was scored by assessing the crown defoliation and the portion of epicormic shoots in the crowns in clonal seed orchards with a total of 1,726 ash trees in southwestern Germany.
Ash dieback severity differed strongly between the orchards and the clones. Broad-sense heritability ranged from 0.18 to 0.55 for crown defoliation and from 0.48 to 0.58 for the portion of epicormic shoots between the orchards. Clones from nearby populations did not show differences in general levels of susceptibility.
The study highlights that there is high genetic variation in susceptibility and considerable genetic potential for resistance breeding in provenances from southwestern Germany.
KeywordsFraxinus excelsior Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus Ash dieback Clonal seed orchards Heritability Tree breeding
Our thanks go to the Research Institute for Forest Ecology and Forestry of Rheinland-Pfalz for the kind support during the assessments and for providing their seed orchards. For their help during the surveys, we thank Johanna Bußkamp, Jonas Wehrle, Ricardo Rivero, Robert Krämer, Martina Stabel, Dietmar Weber and particularly Hermann Schott, who had good ideas for the development of the disease severity scoring system. We are grateful to Dr. Franziska Peters for revising the English and to anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions improving the manuscript.
The study was funded by the Forest Research Institute of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
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