Genetic Variation for Economically Important Traits in Cupressus lusitanica in New Zealand
Frontiers in Plant Science
Increasing productivity and tolerance against cypress canker disease is an important goal in the Mexican white cypress breeding program in New Zealand, and screening has been in place since 1983. Cypress canker disease is caused by Seiridium cardinale and Seiridium cupressi, the current study presents the results of two progeny trials within the breeding program in the North Island of New Zealand. The trials were established as open-pollinated progeny tested and were assessed for diameter at
... for diameter at breast height, branch size, canker severity score, malformation score, and stem straightness score and acceptability score. Heritability estimates were moderate ranging from 0.21 to 0.41 for diameter at breast height and from 0.14 to 0.31 for canker severity score. Stem form attributes showed heritability from 0.08 (malformation) to 0.38 (straightness). No trait showed any significant G × E interaction between investigated sites. This was supported by the very strong genetic correlations estimated between the traits recorded in Welcome Bay and Matata trials. Unfavourable genetic correlations ranging from 0.25 to 0.46 were found between diameter at breast height and canker severity score, indicating that the continued selection for genotypes with improved diameter at breast height would also increase susceptibility to cypress canker. Additionally, unfavourable genetic correlations ranging from 0.52 to 0.73 were found between branch size and diameter at breast height and should be considered in selection programs. The moderate heritability estimated for canker severity score indicates that breeding values for this trait could be predicted with acceptable accuracy and included in the breeding program for Cupressus lusitanica, enabling the identification of genotypes with tolerance to canker severity to be deployed to locations where cypress canker is present in New Zealand.