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Home Resources Webinars Tree Improvement 101

Tree Improvement 101

Carolyn "Carrie" Pike PhD

April 5th – April 26th

This 4-part webinar series hosted by the Reforestation, Nurseries and Genetic Resources (RNGR) program, USDA Forest Service - Eastern Region State, Private, and Tribal Forestry, will focus on tree genetic and breeding topics.

We will offer this training as a 4-part (1 hour/day) series on Fridays in April 2024: April 5, 12, 19, 26 at 1 ET. The first three modules will provide an overview of genetics and breeding topics. The last module will describe different resistance breeding programs as examples of tree improvement in practice.

All webinars will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing.

April 5th, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

The first module of this series will introduce concepts of population genetics to learn how genes are distributed across the landscape for forest trees.

We’ll also look at life history traits, traits we use for selection, and types of common gardens. We’ll also start exploring the relationship between phenotype and genotype and learn how breeding programs separate genetic and environmental effects to advance their goals.

Forestry Webinar Portal

Module 1: Introduction to Forest Genetics and Tree Improvement

April 12th, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

This module will dig deeper into selection, including forward vs backwards selection.

We will look different types of genetic effects with a deep dive into additive genetic variation. We will also explore how heritability is calculated and interpreted for breeding programs.

Forestry Webinar Portal

Module 2: Modes of Selection in Tree Improvement Programs

April 19th, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

This module will explore different types of selection in breeding programs.

We will unpack the concept of genetic gain and how its calculated using linear mixed models. We will also look at different breeding designs and how they are used to advance a population to the next generation.

Forestry Webinar Portal

Module 3: Breeding Designs and Genetic Gain in Tree Improvement Programs

April 26th, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

This final module will demonstrate how tree improvement is utilized to advance resistance in forest trees to pests and pathogens.

This will include breeding programs for Port-orford-cedar (Phyophthora lateralis root disease), ash (emerald ash borer), American elm (Dutch elm disease), and other systems. We’ll explore the successes and challenges faced by resistance breeding programs and describe tactics used to implement these programs across the country.

Forestry Webinar Portal

Module 4: Employing Tree Improvement Concepts for Resistance Breeding