Genetic variation of physical and chemical wood properties

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Apiolaza, LA, Raymond, CA & Yeo, BJ 2005, 'Genetic variation of physical and chemical wood properties', Silvae Genetica, vol. 54, no. 4-5, pp. 160-166.

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This study considered the degree of genetic variation for diameter (DBH), basic density (BD), predicted pulp yield (PPY), fibre length (FL), microfibril angle (MFA) and cellulose content (CC) amongst eight subraces of Eucalyptus globulus growing in a field trial in NW Tasmania. There were significant subrace effects for BD, FLand CC. This variation affected the relative profitability of the subraces for pulp production. On average, the most profitable subraces (on NPV/ha over the base population mean) were Strzelecki Ranges ($862.04), Western Otways ($657.80) and Strzelecki Foothills ($576.81). The genetic control (heritability) of variation in DBH, FL and MFA was moderate (0.15 < h2< 0.27), while control for BD, PPY and CC was high (h2> 0.40). Genetic correlations between growth and wood properties were not statistically significant, except for DBHMFA (–0.86). Most genetic correlations amongst wood properties were outside the parametric space (< –1 or >1), but there were significant correlations between BDMFA (–0.70) and PPY-CC (0.82). The empirical response to selection on an index based on a pulp wood objective (which included volume and basic density) resulted in a gain of 4.3% for DBH, 7.9% for BD and marginal changes for all other traits, with a net impact in profit of $1,270/ha. However, future profit calculations will need to consider the effect of FL, MFA and CC on the economics of wood processing to fully evaluate the economic impact of breeding