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Eucalyptus nitens genetic resources reviewed

E. niten breeding, florentine valley

Shining gum (E. nitens) plantation growing in the Florentine Valley, Tasmania.

­E. niten breeding

Matt Hamilton (UTAS), left, discusses solid wood breeding issues with Sally Collins and Andrew Callister of ITC in Albany, Western Australia.

Brad Potts
University of Tasmania

Shining gum, Eucalyptus nitens, is the second most widely planted eucalypt species in Australia and is being genetically improved both in Australia and overseas.  The species is grown principally for the production of pulpwood but substantial areas are also managed for solid-wood production. The species has a scattered natural distribution that extends over a wide latitudinal range (30.5° to 38° S), from the Central Highlands of Victoria to the Dorrigo area of New South Wales.  Matt Hamilton's review describes the history of genetic improvement of this species in Australia. The first large-scale E. nitens progeny trials were established in the 1970s from base population collections with most focus in Australia.  Eucalyptus nitens of central Victorian origin generally outperforms genotypes sourced from NSW populations in trials established in winter-rainfall zones (e.g. south-eastern Australia). However, the opposite is generally true in summer-rainfall zones (e.g. South Africa). This genotype by environment interaction (G x E) is believed to be caused partly by differences in fungal disease resistance among populations. Up to two breeding cycles have now been completed in Australian breeding programs. Despite extensive research into alternative deployment strategies, improved E. nitens genotypes are almost universally deployed as seedlings derived from open-pollinated seed-orchards.

Matt Hamilton and Brad Potts have also recently published a review of genetic parameters in this species. They reviewed published genetic parameters from over 100 field trials and calculated average values for key growth, wood property, tree architecture, and fitness traits.