Forest Genomics:  Increasing the pace of genetic tree improvement

Loblolly Pine genome has more than 23 billion base pairs. That’s seven times larger than the human genome.

“The value of the Loblolly Pine genome mapping for tree improvement will be that it provides a way to organize data we’ve been collecting for over 60 years and give us a framework that has never before been accessible.”

— Dr. Ross Whetten, Associate Professor, North Carolina State University Forestry & Environmental Tree Improvement Program 

Genomics is the study of a given organism’s DNA, gene sequence and function. The application of genomics in forestry offers opportunities for both commercial planation production and the conservation of ecologically important species. With the genes identified in the recent historic genome mapping of the Loblolly, ArborGen will be able to more quickly and efficiently develop exceptional trees with specific traits for commercial reforestation. Genomic tools are being developed in Loblolly Pine that will enable us to:

  • Verify the identity of seed orchard trees using DNA fingerprinting for precise tracking of every family
  • Improve the value of existing MCP® families for an even greater return on investment
  • Quickly identify the very best trees with the best families to speed development of new varieties
  • Genetically improve forest tree species at a much faster pace than traditional breeding approaches