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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2008) 53(1): 3–5
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Feature article
Breeding radiata pine - future technical challenges

Rowland D. Burdon

Senior Scientist, Scion Ltd

Radiata pine is, genetically, still in a very early stage of domestication. Genetic improvement, which is a key plank of domestication, is set for continued advances in several directions that have already been clearly identified. These include improving wood properties, better definition of breeding goals, various improvements in propagation technology, and much better integration of molecular biology with classical breeding. Yet radically intensified domestication may depend largely on both control of flowering and effectively redesigning trees as wood factories rather than as competitors in an evolutionary rat race. Control of flowering can mean more efficient wood production and provide a platform for realising the full potential of genetic engineering. Redesigning might both improve efficiency of wood production and reduce the troublesome within-log variations in wood properties. As with any investment aimed at high returns, genetic improvement entails its risks. To manage the risks entails institutional challenges as well as the technical ones.
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