The genetic resolution of juvenile canopy structure and function in a three-generation pedigree of Populus

R. Wu, R. F. Stettler

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36 Scopus citations


A genetic approach to the understanding of tree architecture is to cross trees of contrasting features and to study their segregating F2 progenies. For this purpose, members of a 3-generation pedigree, combining Populus trichocarpa, P. deltoides, and their F1 and F2 offspring, were grown side by side in a clonally replicated plantation. At 2 and 3 years of growth, tree architecture was analyzed at the stem, branch, and leaf levels. In all generations, proleptic branches were more numerous, longer, and had more and larger leaves than sylleptics initiated in the same year. The analysis of variance revealed significant genotypic effects on growth, branch and leaf biometrics in the F2 family, with broad-sense heritabilities (H2) ranging from 0.50 to 0.80 for most traits. For branch and leaf traits, the H2 values were found to vary among branch types and crown positions. In year 2, the degree of genetic control was stronger for sylleptics than proleptics and for upper than lower crown positions. These patterns were followed in year 3, except that H2 values were more a function of position within crown, as a consequence of increased competition among trees. The genetic correlations between branch/leaf morphology and stem growth were also a function of branch type and crown position. Generally, traits on proleptics or at upper positions were more tightly correlated with height growth, whereas those on sylleptics or at lower positions, with basal area growth. By year 3, proleptic traits showed increased genetic correlations with both height and radial growth. The implications of these results for the construction of ideotypes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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