Genetic variability of growth and wood chemical properties in a clonal population of Eucalyptus urophylla × Eucalyptus grandis in the Congo
Thirty-four Eucalyptus urophylla × Eucalyptus grandis hybrids were evaluated with a view to selecting for improved growth and wood-quality traits for plantations in the Congo. Height, circumference at breast height and volume were measured at 12, 27, 37, 49 and 60 months. Lignin content, the syringyl/guaiacyl ratio and total extractives content were predicted by near-infrared spectroscopy using wood powder samples collected from trees at breast height. While wood chemical properties were stable and under strong genetic control, growth traits were not. The genetic correlation between lignin content and growth was weak and negative, whereas the environmental correlation was also weak but positive. The genetic improvement of E. urophylla × E. grandis clones, based on growth features, leads to a limited decrease in lignin content and syringyl content and to a limited increase in extractives content.
Keywords: genetic and environmental correlations, genetic gain, NIRS