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Individual Highlight

Best Map Yet of the Pine Genome

Photo of Loblolly pine is an economically significant species in the southern U.S. David StephensLoblolly pine is an economically significant species in the southern U.S. David StephensSnapshot : Southern pine plantations supply 60 percent of wood products in the United States and 18 percent worldwide. These percentages can increase with better understanding of the gene combinations that make these trees grow well. To make this happen, Forest Service and university scientists worked together to construct the most complete pine tree genetic map so far.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Nelson, C. DanaEcht, Craig
Research Location : Saucier, MS
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 720


Over one billion loblolly pine seedlings are planted each year in 32 million acres of plantations that extend from Eastern Texas to Delaware. The growth performance of many of these seedlings benefits from tree improvement and breeding programs. New genomic methods are revolutionizing approaches to tree improvement and have the potential to accelerate the breeding cycle of loblolly pine from the current 12-20 years to less than seven years. To accomplish this, a high-density genetic map may be used to design low-density panels of markers that reduce genotyping costs without large sacrifices in prediction accuracy. Forest Service scientists and their research partners at several universities constructed a genetic linkage map of nearly 5,000 genes in over 1,200 loblolly pine trees by a novel merging the information from four existing maps. This high-density genome map provides an important new resource for the conifer genetics community allowing for powerful comparative analyses of genome-wide genetic properties between individual trees, populations, and species. The enhanced understanding will promote progress on developing DNA-based methods for improvement of loblolly pine and other important pine species world-wide.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Jared W. Westbrook, Matias Kirst, Gary F. Peter, John M. Davis of University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Keithanne Mockatatis of Indiana University, Bloomington, IA
  • Pedro J. Martínez-García, David B. Neale of University of Califormia, Davis, CA
  • Vikram Chhatre of Texas A&M University, College Station, TX