Genetic variation in growth and wood-quality traits of Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata across three sites in south-east Queensland, Australia
Ten growth or wood-quality traits were assessed in three nearby Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata (CCV) open-pollinated family-within-provenance trials (18 provenances represented by a total of 374 families) to provide information for the development of a breeding program targeting both pulp and solid-wood products. Growth traits (diameter at breast high over bark [DBH], height and conical volume) were assessed at 3 and 7 years of age. Wood-quality traits (density [DEN], Kraft pulp yield [KPY], modulus of elasticity [MoE] and microfibril angle [MfA]) were predicted using near-infrared spectroscopy on wood samples collected from these trials when aged between 10 and 12 years. The high average KPY, DEN and MoE, and low average MfA observed indicates CCV is very suitable for both pulp and timber products. All traits were under moderate to strong genetic control. In acrosstrials analyses, high (>0.4) heritability estimates were observed for height, DEN, MoE and MfA, while moderate heritability estimates (0.24 to 0.34) were observed for DBH, volume and KPY. Most traits showed very low levels of genotype × site interaction. Estimated age–age genetic correlations for growth traits were strong at both the family (0.97) and provenance (0.99) levels. Relationships among traits (additive genetic correlation estimates) were favourable, with strong and positive estimates between growth traits (0.84 to 0.98), moderate and positive values between growth and wood-quality traits (0.32 to 0.68), moderate and positive between KPY and MoE (0.64), and high and positive between DEN and MoE (0.82). However, negative (but favourable) correlations were detected between MfA and all other evaluated traits (−0.31 to −0.96). The genetic correlation between the same trait expressed on two different sites, at family level, ranged from 0.24 to 0.42 for growth traits, and from 0.29 to 0.53 for wood traits. Therefore simultaneous genetic improvement of growth and wood property traits in CCV for the target environment in south-east Queensland should be possible, given the moderate to high estimates of heritability and favourable correlations amongst all traits studied, unless genotype × site interactions are greater than was evident.
Keywords: Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata, genetic parameters, spotted gum, wood properties