Genetic association studies in Eucalyptus pilularis Smith (blackbutt)

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Sexton, TR, Henry, RJ, McManus, LJ, Henson, M, Thomas, DS & Shepherd, M 2010, 'Genetic association studies in Eucalyptus pilularis Smith (blackbutt)', Australian Forestry Journal, vol. 73, no. 4, pp. 254-258.

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Breeding for wood quality is limited by the long generation times and the delay before wood quality can be measured reliably. Association studies allow links between phenotype and genotype to be made, and are a prelude to accelerated domestication of trees by molecular breeding approaches. This study uses association genetics to identify DNA polymorphisms that correlate with solid wood properties of Eucalyptus pilularis Smith (blackbutt). We undertook extensive phenotyping of dimensional stability, growth and structural wood properties on a nine-year-old progeny trial established by Forests NSW at Hannam Vale, near Port Macquarie in NSW. A subset of 372 phenotyped individuals representing 284 families collected from 37 provenances was used as the association population for genotypic assessment. Fifty-two out of 127 novel DNA polymorphisms were surveyed within four candidate genes, CCR, CAD, MYB1 and MYB2. Several putative associations between wood quality traits and selected DNA polymorphisms are reported, along with the likely mechanism of action on wood quality. Association studies such as this will facilitate non-destructive DNA tests for heritable wood properties that can be used to enrich breeding populations at any developmental stage with desirable alleles. Keywords: wood properties; phenotypic variation; genetic variation; molecular markers; selection; marker-aided selection; Eucalyptus pilularis

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