The Future of Forest Tree Improvement in New Zealand

  • Mike Carson


The NZ breeding programme is based on the populations evolved during the last 67 years. Clonal testing for within-family ‘forwards’ selection, recently begun in the RPBC breeding program, will increase gains in the breeding population without reducing its genetic variation. ‘Quicker’ selection is the key programme target to give higher gains per year in breeding and deployment. OP breeding methods can obviate grafted archives and shorten forwards-selected progeny testing while getting gains similar to CP. A single breeding population, utilising mate selection by algorithms developed by Kinghorn, has replaced the previous strategy. Efficiency gains can come from improved methods, such as the use of multiple environment trial (MET), BLUP reduced animal model and factor analysis. The implementation of genomic selection (GS) will mainly be for earlier selection than can be achieved using current screening methods. Somatic cloning is one method of cloning the breeding population. In spite of only 10–15% of seeds and few families yielding somatic clones, after field testing, they can be immediately mass-propagated from cryogenic storage and deployed. Direct deployment of somatic clones is the best means of using genomic selection, as well as CRISPR-type gene editing and gene transfer methods.


Future forestry Cloning BP Tree improvement 



A large number of colleagues at the NZFRI over many years have provided the basis for the NZ radiata pine tree improvement programme. Recent discussions with a number of current tree breeding colleagues have also contributed ideas and analysis, and in particular we thank Luis Apiolaza, Brian Cullis, Rob Woolaston, Shaf van Ballekom, Ruth McConnochie, Fred Burger, (the late) Paul Jefferson, Tony Shelbourne, Phil Wilcox, John McEwan, Dave Evison and Heidi Dungey for their inputs.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mike Carson
    • 1
  1. 1.Carson Associates LtdNgongotahaNew Zealand

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