Making sense of genotype x environment interaction of Pinus radiata in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Forestry Science
In New Zealand, a formal tree improvement and breeding programme for Pinus radiata (D.Don) commenced in 1952. A countrywide series of progeny trials was progressively established on over seventy sites, and is managed by the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (RPBC). Diameter at breast height data from the series were used to investigate genotype x environment interaction with a view to establishing the need for partitioning breeding and deployment efforts for P. radiata. Nearly 300,000 measurements made this study one of the largest for genotype x environment interaction ever done.
Bivariate analyses were conducted between all pairs of sites to determine genetic correlations between sites. Genetic correlations were used to construct a proximity matrix by subtracting each correlation from unity. The process of constructing the matrix highlighted issues of low connectivity between sites; whereby meaningful correlations between sites were established with just 5 % of the pairs. However, nearly two-thirds of these genetic correlations were between -1.0 and 0.6, indicating the presence of strong genotype x environment interactions.
A technique known as multiple regression on resemblance matrices was carried out by regressing a number of environmental correlation matrices on the diameter at breast height correlation matrix. Genotype x environment interactions were found to be driven by extreme maximum temperatures (t-statistic of 2.03 against critical t-value of 1.96 at 95 % confidence level). When tested on its own, altitude was significant with genetic correlations between sites at the 90 % confidence level (t-statistic of 1.92 against critical t-value of 1.645).
In addition, a method from Graph Theory using proximity thresholds was utilised as a form of clustering. However, this study highlighted the existence of high internal cohesion within trial series, and high external isolation between trial series. That is, grouping of sites (in terms of diameter) was observed to be a reflection of the series of trials for which each site was established. This characteristic is particularly unhelpful for partitioning sites into regions of similar propensity to genotype x environment interaction, as the genotype x environment effect is effectively over-ridden by the genotype effect. Better cohesion between past, present and future trial series, and more accurate bioclimatic data should allow more useful groupings of sites to be extracted from the data. Given this, however, it is clear that there are a large number of interactive families contained in the RPBC dataset. It is concluded that partitioning of New Zealand’s P. radiata breeding programme cannot be ruled out as an advantageous option.