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Hybrid larch heterosis: For which traits and under which genetic control?

Marchal A., Munoz F., Millier F., Sanchez L., Pâques L.E.. 2017. Tree Genetics and Genomes, 13 : 17 p..

DOI: 10.1007/s11295-017-1177-1

Despite the interest foresters have for inter-specific hybrid trees, still little is known about their quantitative genetics. This is especially true for the hybrid (HL) between Larix decidua (EL) and L. kaempferi (JL). Long-term, well-designed, multi-site experiments are necessary to estimate the parameters required for HL breeding programs. This paper presents the results from a diallel mating trial between nine EL and nine JL, set up in three contrasted sites. Growth traits (height, circumference), quality traits (wood density, stem form, heartwood proportion), and bud flush were measured from plantation to up to 18 years after plantation. Wood density and heartwood proportion were assessed using increment cores. We did a spatial analysis to take into account environmental heterogeneity at the tree level, and we fitted a multi-trait, Bayesian MCMC (Markov chain Monte Carlo) genetic model. Our study confirmed, in most situations, that HL expressed heterosis over its best parent for growth traits taking advantage of an early faster growth, with no loss in wood density. However, growth traits showed low levels of heritability. On the other hand, bud flush and stem flexuosity had high heritabilities, and wood density was clearly under JL control. Site-dependent heritabilities were expressed by EL. Additive genetic correlations were presented. The traits with high heritabilities showed high correlation between their performances in pure species and in hybridization, as well as high across-site correlations. The discussion focused on the interest of these genetic parameters for the hybrid larch breeding programs.

Mots-clés : vigueur hybride; théorie bayésienne; amélioration par hétérosis; larix decidua; larix leptolepis; larix eurolepis; Épreuve sur la descendance; modélisation bayésienne

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