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Crop Biotech Update

New Pine Tree Breeding Technique May Help Forests Adapt to Climate Change and Bioenergy Use

October 14, 2011
http://www.thebioenergysite.com/news/9752/breeding-technique-identified-for-better-bioenergy
(full access to journal article below may require payment or subscription)
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03895.x/abstract

The Bioenergy site reports of a new pine tree breeding technique which was developed by a collaborative team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Florida (United States). The pine breeding technique is said to accelerate the period of development of pine tree varieties with desired traits, which could include those that might actually help forests adapt to climate change and bioenergy use.

 While it usually takes about 13 years to develop a new pine tree variety, the new method is said to cut the period down to 6 or 8 years. The bioenergy site describes the discovery of the technique (using "genome selection") as follows: "The finding came when the researchers bypassed uncovering every bit of genetic code behind pine tree traits. Instead they used the parts of the genetic code they already knew to develop a  trait prediction model. The model allows the researchers to predict with great accuracy traits that will appear in a tree without having to first grow it in a field test, which can take about eight years". "Accuracies of prediction models are reported to range from 0.65 to 0.75 for diameter, and 0.63 to 0.74 for height". Accuracies were also reported to remain high across environments "as long as they were used within the same breeding zone". The research results are published in the journal, New Phytologist (URL above).