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Genetic variation and inheritance in a 9 × 9 diallel in silver birch (Betula pendula)

Skrøppa, Tore, Solvin, Thomas Mørtvedt
Scandinavian journal of forest research 2019 v.34 no.3 pp. 178-188
Betula pendula, agricultural soils, autumn, general combining ability, genetic correlation, genetic variation, growth traits, heritability, inheritance (genetics), leaf abscission, leaves, plant pathogenic fungi, progeny, rust diseases, variance
A complete diallel cross was made among nine Betula pendula trees growing in a natural population and a trial was planted on agricultural soil at one site. This exceptional trial has provided estimates of genetic parameters that can only be estimated in complete diallels. Traits measured were height and diameter during a period of 37 years, and assessments were made of bud burst, leaf abscission and rust infection at the early ages. All traits showed genetic variation and the variance components of general combining ability (GCA) effects were dominating, with heritability estimates of 0.16 and 0.23 for height and diameter at age six years. The best-growing families could be identified at that age. At age 37 years, when the trial had been thinned twice, the offspring from the highest and lowest ranked parent for growth contributed with 19% and 6% of the total volume of the stand, respectively. The GCA effects were also highly significant for the assessment traits, but with an interaction with year for bud burst. High values of estimates of genetic correlations proved that bud burst, leaf abscission and rust infection are interrelated, and also to some extent with growth traits. Families with an early bud burst were tallest, were less affected by the rust fungus and kept their leaves later in the autumn.