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Quantitative genetic variation in bark stripping of Pinus radiata


Nantongo, JS and Potts, BM and Fitzgerald, H and Newman, J and Elms, S and Aurik, D and Dungey, H and O'Reilly-Wapstra, JM, Quantitative genetic variation in bark stripping of Pinus radiata, Forests, 11, (12) Article 1356. ISSN 1999-4907 (2020) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2020 by the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3390/f11121356


Bark stripping by mammals is a major problem for conifer forestry worldwide. In Australia, bark stripping in the exotic plantations of Pinus radiata is mainly caused by native marsupials. As a sustainable management option, we explored the extent to which natural variation in the susceptibility of P. radiata is under genetic control and is thus amenable to genetic improvement. Bark stripping was assessed at ages four and five years in two sister trials comprising 101 and 138 open-pollinated half-sib families. A third younger trial comprising 74 full-sib control-pollinated families was assessed at two and three years after planting. Significant additive genetic variation in bark stripping was demonstrated in all trials, with narrow-sense heritability estimates between 0.06 and 0.14. Within sites, the amount of additive genetic variation detected increased with the level of bark stripping. When strongly expressed across the two sister trials, the genetic signal was stable (i.e., there was little genotype environment interaction). No significant non-additive effect (specific combining ability effect) on bark stripping was detected in the full-sib family trial, where it was estimated that up to 22.1% reduction in bark stripping might be achieved by selecting 20% of the less susceptible families. Physical traits that were genetically correlated, and likely influenced the amount of bark removed from the trees by the marsupials, appeared to depend upon tree age. In the older trials, these traits included bark features (presence of rough bark, rough bark height, and bark thickness), whereas in the younger trial where rough bark was not developed, it was the presence of obstructive branches or needles on the stem. In the younger trial, a positive genetic correlation between prior height and bark stripping was detected, suggesting that initially faster growing trees exhibit more bark stripping than slower growing trees but later develop rough bark faster and became less susceptible. While the presence of unexplained genetic variation after accounting for these physical factors suggests that other explanatory plant traits may be involved, such as chemical traits, overall the results indicate that selection for reduced susceptibility is possible, with potential genetic gains for deployment and breeding.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bark stripping, narrow-sense heritability, GxE, Pinus radiata
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Forestry sciences
Research Field:Forestry management and environment
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Forestry
Objective Field:Softwood plantations
UTAS Author:Nantongo, JS (Mrs Judith Nantongo)
UTAS Author:Potts, BM (Professor Brad Potts)
UTAS Author:Fitzgerald, H (Mr Hugh Fitzgerald)
UTAS Author:Newman, J (Miss Jess Newman)
UTAS Author:O'Reilly-Wapstra, JM (Professor Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra)
ID Code:143968
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP140100602)
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2021-04-12
Last Modified:2021-07-06
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