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Genetics of Air Pollution Tolerance of Trees in the Northeastern United States

Air pollution is an important stress factor on trees growing in the northeastern United States. Because of the complexity of the air pollution problem, this area faces damaging levels of air pollution for many decades to come. Selecting and breeding for air pollution tolerant trees can be justified as a component of an overall air pollution mitigation strategy which centers on control of emissions. Studies of genetic variation in response of trees to air pollutants and of the genetic control of this response suggest that selecting and breeding for air pollution tolerance should be successful in several species of trees. Species which continue to be damaged by air pollution and for which tree improvement programs are needed to increase pollution tolerance include eastern white pine, Scotch pine, trembling aspen, green ash, and white ash. A summary is presented of programs in the Northeast that involved screening trees for air pollution tolerance and/or in selecting and breeding air pollution tolerant trees.

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Author(s): David F. Karnosky, Daniel B. Houston

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Northeastern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 1978