Forestry products contribute approximately $23.1 billion to Canada’s GDP. The SMarTForest team developed genomic selection methods as tree breeding tools which provide accurate prediction of breeding values.
Proof of concept was demonstrated in white spruce and black spruce. Major progress was also made for insect resistance in interior spruce. Together, this represents a breakthrough in applied forest genomics and represents the best opportunity for short term implementation of Marker Aided Selection (MAS). The project also developed a suite of genetic markers and functionally informed biomarkers for traits of economic and ecological importance identified by end users in Canadian spruce breeding programs.
Application of these tools is predicted to shorten the breeding cycle of spruces for mature traits to a third (from 28 to 9 years) and may translate into reaching economic benefits faster and an enhanced ability of the forestry sector to adapt to changing markets and environments.
The project cemented Canada’s international leadership in fundamental and applied conifer genomics and resulted in 67 publications, over 125 presentations, and 29 awards/distinctions received by members of the team.